Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bain Capital Explained By Tony Soprano

Tony Soprano explains private equity. Bain Capital and similar outfits gave "Private Equity" a bad name. Bain Capital and "Private Equity" are now synonyms for Vulture Capitalists and Corporate Raider.

Funny word, bain. According to Wiktionary it means “straight, direct, easy to deal with”. However, there is an alternative form of the word spelled "bane" that means "a cause of misery or death; an affliction or curse". Me thinks Mitt erred when when he named Bain Capital. Or maybe the misspelling was deliberate.

Of course, there is a problem with the companies that get taken over. If there wasn't a problem, they would not be subject to take over in the first place. The mistake they make is in allowing these land sharks in the door. They would probably have been better off just shutting down the company. That way at they might still have their pension funds, and the US taxpayer would not have to be picking up the bill. How much was that bill anyway, Mitt, ol' buddy?

There was a movie a while back called Other People's Money where Danny DeVito was a corporate raider. In that film he claimed to be the stockholders' only friend. The company was on the skids and it was not going to recover. The best that could be done would be to shut it down and sell off the assets. People may not have liked him or what he was doing, but at least he was up front about it, not like that slimy Mitt Bain.

The title for the movie may have come from the book. From Scott.

Post Hip Obscurity

From October 25th, 1942. What's that old line? An army travels on it's stomach? Click to embiggenate, unless you are using Google's Chrome, in which case, it won't and you still won't be able to read the priceless wartime advice.

I'm back

I drove to Denver and back over the weekend. I am a little tired.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


There was a fire at an apartment complex in SW Portland last weekend. One apartment was pretty well consumed by the blaze. The heat from the fire warped the vinyl siding on another building about 50 feet away. I was surprised. The chain link is a temporary fence erected to keep the ghouls out.

1959 Goggomobil TS 250 Coupe

More Post-Hip Obscurity from Scott. More info here. Never mind the red color, it's not Italian, it's from Germany.

Update September 2015. Replaced missing picture.

Quote of the Day

From The Battle of the Crater: A Novel of the Civil War by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, page 48.
I picked this book up from the bargain bin, I certainly wouldn't have paid full price for it. Newt Gingrich is one of my least favorite people. He ranks right down there with those blowhards on the radio. However, just because a man is your enemy does not mean he is an idiot. It is a reverse of the situation where famous entertainers lend their voices to foolish causes. I read something about Newt once that said he knew something about the Civil War, and so I picked up this book. It is not the greatest story, but it's not too bad, and it's about a subject of which I know little. And then we come to the above paragraph, and I'm thinking I haven't heard that idea before, so I mentioned it to my friend Jack who knows quite a bit more about history than I do, and he tells me that he had had the same idea, but had never seen anything written about it. I should go look up Charlemagne. I have heard of him, but that's about it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gun for the Day

I don't know anyone who would have a pocket big enough to hold this pocket cannon, except maybe Paul Bunyan, and he wouldn't really need one, would he?  Found in the back of this book:

Only a thousand copies were printed, and then the plates were destroyed. Most of the book appears to be about actual odd firearms. The last chapter is a series of fake advertisements for some very bizarre caricatures of Colt Revolvers. At first glance some of them are a little hard to distinguish from actual guns. I suspect that the pictures are not as clear as could be because the lighting was a little dim.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Attraction and Repulsion

"She is an attractive woman" is a commonly used phrase which means a woman is sexually attractive. Is there any other kind of attraction? I suppose if she was rich, she might be monetarily attractive, or if she was covered with syrup she might be bee attractive, but that's not what we usually mean.

Humans are hard wired to detect beauty. From a male, heterosexual point of view, the gross anatomy of an attractive woman can be related to some basic survival-of-the-species traits. Long legs means she can outrun the varmints, small waist means she is not pregnant, wide hips means she can bear children, large breasts means she can nurse those children. The only things I have not figured out are the face and hair. All I can figure about the face is that prominent cheekbones give better protection to the eye, and the only thing I can think of for long hair is that it is useful for either sewing or for making bows and arrows, but animal sinews seem to be preferred for those uses, so I really don't know. Maybe it is just plain decorative.

I find it just a little odd that when I see an attractive woman my gaze will lock onto her automatically. For most of my life it was the face that I focused on. Recently I have been noticing bodies more. It's really weird. I can be going about my business, but if an attractive woman crosses my field of view my eyes will automatically latch on to her. It is not a conscious decision. Matter of fact it takes a conscious effort not to stare.

It is well known that men enjoy looking at attractive women. What I could not figure out for a long time is why women do not seem to have as much interest in attractive men. Look at some women's magazines and you might think you are looking at Playboy. They are full of pictures of attractive women with hardly any pictures of men. But now I think I have it: men are shooters and women are targets. I have always looked at things from my point of view. I was a shooter and I was looking for a target. Women are different. Women are not shooters, they want to attract shooters. They do so by making themselves attractive targets. The competition is fierce, though alien to most men. It is a contest to see who can be the most attractive target, not who is the most accurate shot. Who can garner the most attention? The most attractive targets will attract the most shooters. Given the rules of modern Western civilization, the woman can then choose which shooter she would like to be shot by.

You cannot have attraction without repulsion. If there were no repulsion, everything would be equally attractive, no one any more attractive than anyone else. Repulsion comes in various degrees. When you consider men and women there is some level of attraction and some level of repulsion. There are any number of factors can influence these forces: appearance, manners, education, intelligence, and any number of facets of the personality. Appearance may be the initiating factor, but after the introduction, the person's behavior starts taking on increasing larger role.

That is when we are talking about normal, heterosexual men and women: they are attracted to people of the opposite sex. But what about homosexuals? Now everything is turned around.

The main problem with "gay marriage" is the term. If it was called something more neutral, say something like "civil partner contract" there would not be so much resistance to the idea. Marriage is an ancient institution. It is not just an agreement between two people to share their lives together, the whole point of a marriage is to produce and raise children. While homosexuals may be perfectly capable of raising children, no pair of homosexuals is going to produce any.

Producing children requires sexual relations and marriage permits people to have sexual relations. For heterosexuals, this is normal and right. The term "gay marriage" combines homosexuality with sex. Ewww, that's disgusting, that's just repulsive. Yuck, yuck, double yuck, I don't even want to think about it, and you made me think about it just by uttering that phrase.

This is why the issue of gay marriage provokes such an uproar. Just the idea is repulsive to most heterosexuals.

Popular Killers

I consumed three murder mysteries this week. Avoiding me responsibilities, me was. Janet Evanovich's first one, if the title is to be believed, and two by the MacDonald twins, Ross & John. Seems to me that when I was in school I learned a rule about alphabetizing books by author that said names that started with Mc or Mac were all to be placed together, so when I was in Powell's the other day looking for these guys I looked under Mc and found nothing. I asked at the desk and they told me they were filed under Mac, never mind the rule. I poked around a bit in the Ether and found a whole lot of contradictory opinions about rules for alphabetizing, most of which are wrong.

One For The Money     by   Janet Evanovich, 1994, starring Stephanie Plum in New Jersey
The Lonely Silver Rain by John MacDonald, 1985, starring Travis McGee in Florida
The Blue Hammer      by    Ross MacDonald, 1976, starring Lew Archer in California

Janet's book got made into a movie recently, I haven't seen it. I have read a couple of her other books and they are great fun. I've read both of the MacDonald books before, but I wasn't sure until I came across a passage that I recognized. In John's book the part I recognized was a scene with a bungalow on the other side of a small wooden bridge across a canal. The part from Ross's book was about families and letters.

Pedestrians Versus Automobiles

Drove downtown today to make a pickup (two keys of heroin, if you must know). Northbound on 13th, I stop at Everett. There are a couple of people coming down the stairs to the corner on my right. I look left for traffic, there isn't any, so I turn right around the corner. May have cut the people off, but I was there first, by a hair. Drive four blocks to Flanders and 10th to make my pickup. Streets North of Burnside are in alphabetical order, one street per letter. Drive down 10th to Glisan (prounounced Gleason, like Couch is pronounce Cooch) and turn left. Driving up Glisan in the left hand lane and there are a couple of cars stopped in the left hand lane. Why are they stopped? Who knows?, but Murphy says if I wait on them I will be there all day whereas if I go around them they will promptly move, so I go around. As soon as I do a couple of pedestrians walk out from in front of the stopped cars and in front of me. We are all a little startled. I step on the brakes and they hustle across the street. The guy turns and and shakes his fist and yells something. I can't hear him, the windows are up. It is the same people I cut off at the beginning of this story. I can understand him being a little ticked off. I was stopped a car length from the intersection, so it wasn't like a really close call or anything.

This is a bad intersection. The pavement has concrete cross walks, but no markings, no lights, and no warning signs. Glisan is fairly major street through downtown, it leads to the freeway and escape. We had a bicyclist killed downtown by a big truck last week, and a bus mowed down a group of pedestrians a couple of years ago, so people are understandably a little edgy.

P.S. The stopped cars weren't actually cars, they were vans or SUV's or something which prevented me from seeing the people in the crosswalk.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Post Hip Obscurity / Quote of the Day

From The Oregonian, Tuesday, April 28th, 1942, via Scott. Caption:
The Oregon Bushwhackers were practicing up Monday night, that practicing being trigger snap for invading Jap. The defense volunteer organization will apply for induction into the state guard. Maynard Cole, left, president of the organization; figures that Zenas Meyer; right, is mighty handy with rifle. Meyer spent nine years in taking pot shots at the varmints in the Colorado mountains. He now classifies any Jap as a varmint. Story on page 13.
Class, for today's lesson compare and contrast the above paragraph with this scene from Three Kings,

[Conrad retrieved a map from an Iraqi's soldier's butt
Sgt. Troy Barlow: Conrad, you've washed your hands like ten times. 
Conrad Vig: Lord knows what kind of vermin live in the butt of a dune coon. 
Chief Elgin: Why do you let this cracker hang around with you, man? 
Sgt. Troy Barlow: He's all right, man. He's from a group home in Dallas. He's got no high school. 
Conrad Vig: Don't tell people that. 
Chief Elgin: I don't care if he's from Johannesburg. I don't want to hear "dune coon" or "sand nigger" from him or anybody else. 
Conrad Vig: Captain uses those terms. 
Sgt. Troy Barlow: That's not the point, Conrad. The point is that "towelhead" and "camel jockey" are perfectly good substitutes. 
Chief Elgin: Exactly! 

  Mark Wahlberg ... Troy Barlow
  Ice Cube          ... Chief Elgin
  Spike Jonze ... Conrad Vig

Monday, May 14, 2012

Post Hip Obscurity

Spruce, being strong and light, is a popular wood for building light aircraft. During WWI the government decided they needed more than they could get from commercial suppliers, so they built a couple of logging camps, complete with sawmills and railroads in the Northwest. (Wikipedia has the whole story.) After the war they were no longer needed, so they were put up for auction. Scott came across a  bid document which included this flyer. The bid document is a perfect bound book of letter size paper about a half inch thick. All the pages were yellowed as you would expect from a document that is pert near a hundred years old. The paper of this "B" size flyer is still perfectly white. It's almost like tracing paper, you can see the dark background beneath the lower half, and a dark square showing through the upper half. I think it must be a picture on the following page.
Click to embiggenate. It will be large enough to read.

Oscar Meyer

The Wienermobile was in town yesterday. I like the smiling grill.

Hawthorne Bridge

Entering the East side approach to the Hawthorne Bridge yesterday afternoon we noticed that the lights on the Drawbridge Open sign were flashing. Never seen that before. The approach is long, maybe a quarter mile, and goes through an S-curve, so you can't really see the bridge from the entrance. We finally get onto the bridge itself and the warning lights have just turned to red and the crossing guards are just coming down. One car 50 yards ahead of us in the adjacent lane scooted through on yellow. Our timing is impeccable. It takes them a minute to get their gears engaged, but then the bridge does start going up. You can see the raised deck just below the traffic lights and above the roof of the car. It must have just been a test, this is as high as it went, it only stayed up for a minute or two, and no boats of any size went underneath. (Ski boats don't count.)

While we are waiting, I think to get out and walk around, but as I open the door with my keys in my hand I look down and see the water through the four inch openings in the grill. Drop your keys out there and they are gone. I sit back down and close the door.

Spider of the Day

Haven't put up a spider pic for a while, possibly because I've seen all the spiders at my house, and they are all kind of boring, or I need a better camera for close-ups. This pic is from Grainger in Austin, Texas, and this critter, besides having a little color, is big. Quote Grainger: "It was about 6 inches, front leg to rear leg. Startled me when I looked out the sliding glass door!"

Update November 2016 replaced missing picture.

Quote of the Day

Sadly, the urge to Uplift will always be with us and sour-faced crusading busybodies seem to be part of our political DNA. Cut one head off the Prohibitionist hydra and two more spring up; they ban because they can.
The problem is never about objects: it's about actions. Specifically, the actions of ill-mannered louts with poor impulse control and nothing you could describe as a moral or an ethic. But it is impolite to say so, and so we allow ourselves to believe that if we outlaw _______, we will Uplift the whole human race into some blissful future utopian paradise, when we know damn well that there are those among us who would push other kids into the rivers of milk and honey, eat the lamb, and set the lion's mane on fire. - View From The Porch
H.L. Mencken wrote a very good essay about the evils of Uplift-ism. I looked, but I could not find it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Big? Big.

From WIMP.

So we start with the planets in our solar system, move up to our sun and then other stars which just keep getting bigger and huger and ever more gigantic until we get to VY Canis Majoris which is the largest star in the known universe. Seems I've heard of this story before, so I go read a little bit. He's big alright:
Placed at the center of the Solar System, VY Canis Majoris's surface would extend beyond the orbit of Saturn. 
But he's not that tough:
the star is a thousand times less dense than the atmosphere of the Earth. 
Maybe not that tough, but his ginormous size more than compensates:
Astronomers . . . have predicted that VY Canis Majoris will explode as a hypernova within the next 100,000 years. Theoretically, a hypernova would cause gamma ray bursts that could damage the contents of the local galaxy, wiping out any cellular life within a number of light years; however, no hypergiant is located close enough to Earth to pose a threat. The star is large enough to create an enormous black hole, and it is very likely to do so.


Iaman has acquired a new-to-him boat. It's a 14 year old, 17 foot long Bayliner with a 150 HP Mercury outboard. As might be expected it's a little worn, but the motor only has 300 hours on it, and with that big a motor it scoots along pretty good.

The engine is a sophisticated bit of modern technology: the last time he was out the alarm went off. He took it to the Mercury dealer where they replaced a water impeller and told him the automatic oil injection system was on the fritz and it would cost a fortune to repair it. Some Googling reveals that it is just as likely that there is a problem with the alarm system as there is a problem with the oil injection system. My take is: you have to pour oil into the oil tank when you fill up gas, why not just pour the oil directly into the gas tank and save yourself the whole “what do I do about the broken oil injection (or alarm) system?” dilemma. This got me to thinking. If it's just as easy to pour the oil in the gas tank as it is to pour it in the oil tank, why do we have these automatic mixer things anyway? And then I realized it involves two things that are a whole lot like work: 1) having to remember to add oil, and 2) measuring. If you are off on your ski boat for the weekend, the last thing you want is to have to think about mechanical chickenshit. I mean it's bad enough you have to remember to put gas in tank. You want me to remember to put oil in it too?

The propeller was kind of dinged up, so he took it to the local prop shop, Linden Propeller, which turned out to be the king of the Midwest prop shops, or at the very least is a fine example of American ingenuity, hard work and efficiency (picture from Google Streetview).

The best part is this fancy machine the owner developed for repairing propellers. The video is a little long and a little showy, but it's an interesting piece of equipment.

Linden Propeller Co. Prop Press 360 & 500 with Digital Propeller Scan System
Update September 2018 replaced missing video.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Good Place To Work

From some office drone, caught in the midst of a giant corporation being gutted by the executives.

  1. The managers are always meeting, so they don't bother you.
  2. When they are on the floor, the managers are so beaten down they are sympathetic to line workers despair.
  3. I can walk to work.
  4. Evening shift is nice because there aren't many people around, sometimes none.
  5. The vending machines have fresh Cheetos 51% of the time.
  6. There are always paper towels and toilet paper in the bathrooms
  7. Trash is emptied 5 days a week,  during the day, so you can see it being done and chat with janitorial staff.
  8. Lots of very pleasant Indian's, nice curry aromas wafts from the microwaves.
  9. A occasional treat is listening to native English speakers on conference calls.
  10. Outsiders are in awe and curious about this giant corporation.
  11. Elevators are regularly swept
  12. I have never had anything stolen from my desk.
  13. Good chairs, lighting and pretty good HVAC.
  14. Plenty of paper for the printers.
  15. Clear desk policy reduces the chance of having the complexity of real work.
  16. Plenty of commiserating with co-workers.
  17. All coworkers on same page.
  18. Emails from higher management can be auto-routed into trash.
  19. Regularly unenforced mandates and threats teach one calmness and affability in the face of crisis.
  20. 50% of the tickets are routed wrongly to your queue.
  21. The metrics are meaningless so you are not held accountable.
  22. Everyone dresses nicely in business casual, no pants around your knees, t-shirts, baseball caps, sneakers are verboten.
  23. White noise machines provide valid excuse for not hearing directives.
  24. Security policies provide a effective excuse for not working.
  25. The foreigners are not competing for your job, housing, food, babes, parking spaces, they just want to get back home, they miss their families.
  26. No firearms policy.
  27. Onsite security patrols.

Quote of the Day

I guess the special relationship remains: in Britain as in America, what we see politically is the survival of the wrongest. - Paul Krugman, December 2010

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunny Day Hardware

Heading for lunch and there's some lunkhead holding up traffic just this side of Dead Man's Curve. Oh, it's Mr. Weedeater.

We stop at the hardware store after lunch and they have a bargain bin full of tools. I am enthralled. I don't need anything, but they have this handle for chisels. Save your knuckles.

Somewhere to get rid of your fluorescent bulbs. Like I'm gonna drive clear across town to pay these guys 80 cents.

There is a pressurized sewer line running along Multnomah Boulevard. The current one was installed ten years ago but it wasn't up to snuff. The incessant hammering from the pumps dislodged it from it's moorings and it started leaking, so now it's being replaced. These guys were hard at it today, steam shovels steaming, skip loaders skipping, flaggers flagging. Another couple hundred yards and it will be complete.

Jack's replacing the sink in his kitchen, and due to the innate animosity of inanimate objects, he needs longer hold down screws. So he pulls out his handy-dandy pitch gauge to measure them and notices that this gauge has all kinds of pitches that he has never seen before. The first number is the number of threads per inch, the second number is the (approximate) length of one thread. I have seen threads with 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 24 threads per inch, but I've never seen any of the others. The gauge was made by Starrett. I wonder how old it is.

At the hardware store we are looking for some long #12 machine screws. As long as I have been fooling with hardware, screws sizes smaller than a quarter inch in diameter were given numbers. The smallest common size was #4 and the largest was #12, mostly even numbers, but occassionally you would run into some odd numbered wood screws. Anything a quarter inch or bigger was denoted by the diameter given as a fraction of an inch: 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, etc. I had never seen any screws denoted by a fraction smaller than a quarter. Until today, when I discovered that the unrepentent hoodlums at A-Boy were labeling screws as being 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch! Heresey!

Jack's putting down some tile, so he wanted a tile saw. Buy or rent? This one was only $77, so he bought it.

Cool picture of the day. This is the business end of the screw thread gauge with all the leaves lined up.

Jack got a new toy: a 500 year old drill press. Made of steel. And cast iron. The way god intended machine tools to be made. Note the OHSA approved safety guards around the drive belt and pulleys.

Quote of the Day

"No plan of action survives contact with sunrise." - Roberta X

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Old Murder Under Review

Steve Duin started a story in today's paper about a murder that happened nine years ago. A man was shot and killed and a woman was shot. Another man was arrested and convicted, but did he do it? It's one of these deals where you can imagine a scenario where he is guilty or one where he is not, depending on whether you believe there was a nut case wandering around loose in the woods at the same time. Being as it happened in a remote location, I am wondering if you could determine the odds of someone else even being in the vicinity.


More Post-Hip Obscurity from Scott: everything you ever wanted to know about grocery stores. What's that rule about the internet? If you can think of it, someone has already done a website about it? That's not quite it, but it's close enough for today's lesson. This is one subject I had not given much thought, but somebody has. There is a good, quick history of grocery stores that is worth reading.

Update September 2015. Replaced picture that was missing from post but still visible in the editor. Perhaps my messing about with the html confused somebody.

Old Time Wrenches

M-3 9/32-Drive Tee Handle

Socket wrenches are a mainstay of any mechanic's toolbox. Socket wrenches have several pieces that snap together to make a wrench that can be used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. Typically there will be the socket, which is the piece that actually engages the bolt, and a handle that you use to turn the socket and so turn the bolt. The handle and the socket snap together using a square peg and a square hole, commonly called a square drive. Sockets come in a variety of sizes to fit different size bolts. The joint where the socket and handle fit together are of a common size, that is, one handle will fit any one of a number of sockets.

For as long as I have been fooling with wrenches the common sizes for a square drive has been 1/4" (quarter inch), 3/8" (three eighths inch) and 1/2" (half inch). There are bigger sizes like 3/4" and 1" square drive for things like bulldozers and steamship engines, but you don't see those very often.

Jack recently came across a set of antique sockets for sale on Ebay that supposedly had a 9/32" square drive. I thought it was nuts. Some guy has misread the measurements on some really old, badly worn sockets and decided that they were 9/32" instead of 1/4".  Not quite. Jack digs around and comes up with the Alloy Artifacts web site, which has a whole page about old Snap-On (a brand name) wrenches, including, of course, 9/32" square drive. Hmmph. I could wonder what caused them to drop the 9/32" and adopt 1/4" size, but I won't.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Papa's Soul Food Kitchen

 Drove down to Eugene today to have lunch with younger son at Papa's. Good eatin'. Don't think I've ever seen a place that sold Kool-Aid.

Tire of the Day

Bought these tires last fall. Just noticed this message impressed in the center rib.
The car does have a low tire pressure indicator. I would have thought it was part of the wheel, not part of the tire. Shows what I know.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crazy Women

Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman. Here we have young whore apprenticed to a sorcerer. I really liked C.S.Friendman's science fiction books, and I also liked Black Sun Rising, which took a step towards fantasy, but kept one foot in reality. This book leaves reality pretty much behind and enters completely into fantasy. There are some rough edges to the plot, kind of like she was figuring out the implications of the powers available in this imaginary world as she was writing it. There's a bit much of the stilted fair lady / brave knight style of speech. But all in all it's a pretty good story.
Counterprobe by Carole Nelson Douglas. This one reads like a script to a made-for-TV UFO abduction drama. Lot's of tears, anguish and confusion, along with evil government agents and mysterious aliens, who still hadn't made an appearance by the time I got a third of the way through the book, where upon I gave up on it. Too much drama, not enough plot. The woman in this story isn't as psycho as the others, she's just an alien grown clone and as such has no memories of growing up.
Forbidden Knowledge, The Gap Into Vision by Stephen Donaldson. Here we have a beautiful (it's implied, but I don't think the book ever states it explicitly) young, talented female space cop. Prior to this book she was kidnapped by a really rotten space pirate who implanted a remote control in her brain. With this remote control he was able to subject her to all kinds of degrading acts. Presumably sexual, but we never learn just exactly what happened. We are just told, over and over again, how awful and degrading it all was. But this remote control has all kinds of capabilities, and once she gets control of it she starts finding out that there are some things she likes. She likes them so much she becomes addicted to it, and hides it's existence from her superiors and everyone else. As soon as she is rescued from the bad guy, which is where the book starts, she is spirited off by another space pirate, and an endless stream of adventures and predicaments ensue. Great space opera. In this universe they have space ships with engines that consume fuel and can propel their ships to sizable fractions of the speed of light. They also have the "Gap" drive, which allows them to make jumps across interstellar distances. The author's grasp of sub-light physics is not quite perfect, but since you are only operating in a realm that is only a fraction of a light year across, it really doesn't make any difference. And well, super-light physics, well, that's whatever you want to make it, isn't it?

Utica High School. Really?

Barbara, an old classmate of mine from high school, posted this on Facebook. It struck a chord with me because I went through something similar with my father about five years ago. His mind wasn't failing, but his body was. The last six months of his life he spent in the hospital, rehab and an elder care home. He was in the neighborhood, so I could at least visit him easily. He wasn't too happy about his situation, once he realized what it was.

He fell down in July and couldn't get back up. I didn't discover this for two days. Here come the paramedics and the ambulance. They cart him off to the hospital. His artificial hip joint has come undone. Two bouts of general anesthesia and one surgery later and the the hip joint is back together. Six weeks later the anesthesia has finally worn off and he wanted to go home. That wasn't going to work. My wife and I were both working. He was 87 years old. He died in January of 2005.

The guy who made the film, John Hartfield, went to the same high school as I did in Utica, Ohio, though our terms were 20 years apart.

Update July 2015. Replaced video. Replaced high school link. 2013 John is making a second movie.
Update March 2022 replaced missing video with link.

Rumors of Australia

Daring daughter has a friend in Australia, and two more of her friends from Oregon are there now, so we have sources for our rumors. Seems everything is more expensive in Australia, except the schools, but Australia has escaped the recession that the US and Europe are suffering from. Also, minimum wage is $17 an hour, and lest you think that the Australian dollar is only worth a fraction of the US dollar, it's not. Today it's like 98 cents. For the last four months it's been worth more than a dollar. Several years ago the Australian dollar was worth quite a bit less, but I suspect the recent rampant inflation in the US is what erased that advantage. A high minimum wage is no good if you can't get a job, but daughter's friends found jobs and are working. Unemployment in Australia is just over 5% right now.

Then I come across an ad for a book: A Super History: How Australia's $1 trillion+ superannuation industry was made, wherein I found this blurb:
The passion and the politics around the early years of the history make way for the emergence of industry superannuation funds and the growth of the superannuation industry, a sector that was largely credited for protecting Australia from the worst effects of the global financial crisis.
Not pouring a trillion dollars into Iraq and another trillion dollars into Afghanistan might have something to do with it as well. We have some real shitheads running our country.

Update August 2016 replace dead link with one to Amazon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I was visiting some place I had not been for several years. I went for a walk out in the country. I had been out for a while and I was starting to head back and I was a little disoriented, but I recognized a structure up on a hill so I decided to head in that direction. That should get me back on track. So I turned right up a draw between a couple of hills. In short order this led me to a big suburban development with a shopping mall. This was new, it had not been there the last time I was here. It was one of these upscale places, all one story buildings with tile roofs, beige stucco walls, and landscaped to perfection. I stopped in a store to inquire about a map. At first it was a military recruiting center, but then it was a realtor's office. There were several people there and they tried to help, but they didn't have any useful maps. They had lots of large scale maps that showed houses in neighborhoods, but none that showed any more than a neighborhood, and certainly none that showed where we were in relation to the house on the hill, or where I was staying, or even any other neighborhoods. It was beginning to look like I had a very long walk ahead of me. It was frustrating and a little depressing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fluorescent Lights

The fluorescent light in the kitchen got dim the other day. Bad bulbs? Bad ballast? Who knows? Bulbs are easier, so we'll replace those first. At home depot it looks like they have four packs for $30 and single bulbs for $10. Yowzer! Then I notice that the $30 packs actually contain ten bulbs, and the $10 price is for two bulbs, unless you want a two foot long bulb, then they really are $10 each. T-12 bulbs are marginally cheaper, as should be expected. The only people who benefit from the new technology are the people who make it. Unless you count saving 25 cents a year on electricity a benefit. (end sarcasm). I have a Home Depot cash card with $4 on it, so I am out the door with two new bulbs for $5 and change. I can live with that.

Clean the diffuser, change the bulbs, all okay. Go to pick up the old bulbs and I notice that one of them has broken.

Took a photo of the inside of the broken end, just in case you ever wondered what was inside. Looks like one of the wires and part of the filament band have vaporized.

Tried to use my old trick of sticking the end of the bulb in a paper bag and whacking it with my whacking stick, but the shattering exceeded the bounds of the bag.

Here's another view of the filament inside the end. The three wires all go to the metal band. Nothing is connected to the little glass capsule.

P.S. Blogger: How do you spell fluorescent? When I first entered the title, I spelled it with a U, but the spell checker complained. Okay, I'll take out the U, now spell checker is happy. I know I have written about fluorescent lights before, so lets run a search and see what we find. Without a U we find nothing. So I do a search on Google, and Google wants to know if I mean fluorescent (with a U). I run another search on my blog  for fluorescent, this time with a U, and a get a whole bunch of results. Now when I come back here and correct the spelling of fluorescent, spell checker does not complain. Effing Google. Plus what EB said.

Yellow Bird

I spied a yellow bird outside the kitchen window this morning. I saw another one a couple of days ago, but I didn't get a pic. I don't recall ever seeing any yellow birds around here before. The one I saw the other day had an orange top to his (her?) head and the only black parts were his wings. Is this another omen of the impending zombie apocalypse?

Meanwhile near Gondor

Stolen, title and all, from Dustbury. I just couldn't resist.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Vengeance is a great tale about Asian Triad gunmen until you get to the last half hour, and then it turns all Hollywood. All in all it's pretty good. There are a couple of really excellent gunfights. The first one takes place in a park just after sundown. We have a full moon, but there are clouds and they alternately obscure the moon and then reveal it with corresponding changes in illumination. The second one takes place in the outside concrete stairwell of a small apartment building. It is set in Hong Kong and Macao, which are about 50 miles apart across the mouth of the Zhujiang River. (No, I've never heard of the zoo-gee-ung river before now.) It's in French, English and Chinese, with subtitles. There are a couple of scenes where only some of the people know what's being discussed because not everyone speaks all the of the languages.

Francois Costello (Johnny Hallyday) is the man seeking vengeance, but his memory is starting to get a little flaky, so he employs some interesting techniques to remind himself of important matters. His number one gunman catches on to his scheme and so writes the name of his enemy on his gun so he won't forget. This scene (picture) shows up towards the end of the film. I didn't know Colt had a Japanese division.

The Square of the Hippopotamus

I'm taking another run at trying to understand quantum computing. To that end I've been watching some Leonard Susskind video lectures. (Leonard is the father of string theory.) They are kind of long, and he wanders a bit, but he does a pretty good job of explaining stuff. Unfortunately, like most other explanations I've come across, he starts talking about the physics, but then he starts talking about the math used to describe what is going on and he never comes back to the physics. Oh, I imagine he might, eventually, I've only watched a couple of them, but so far it's ten minutes of physics and then ten hours of talking about the math used to describe the physics. I think these guys like the math more than the physics, and I guess I can sympathize, after all, the math follows rules, and the physics by itself doesn't really make any sense at all. Still hoping I can break on through to the other side.

Meanwhile, I got a little ticked off in lecture two where he starts talking about the "complex conjugate" of a vector, and how if you multiple a vector by its' complex conjugate, you get it's magnitude. If you are talking about a two dimensional vector, like an arrow drawn on a sheet of graph paper, then the product you get from multiplying these two vectors is the square of the hypotenuse. Shades of Pythagoras!

Then I thought a little more, and began to wonder if maybe I was being unfair. I am partial to terms like "Pythagorean theorem", "hypotenuse" and "Cartesian coordinate system" because those are the terms I learned as a lad. I don't like "complex", "conjugate" and "vector", because, well, because they are new. Are they really any worse than the old terms? Well, maybe. "Complex" implies complicated, and complex numbers are not really complicated, so it's a bad term. "Conjugate" is something you do with words, not numbers, so it's a stupid word, and "vector" can mean either of two things (a list of numbers or an arrow) and you have to figure it out from context. So all you people who say "math is stupid" have some grounds for your complaint.

All this so far has just been an excuse to post this erudite bit of wisdom I found on Look! A Baby Wolf!:
There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant. The first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys.This just goes to prove that…. the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

Jeopardy by Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn Band - Jeopardy (1983) (Music Video) HQ

Heard this song on Charlie FM (97.1) yesterday. Recognized the tune, but I didn't know the name or artist, so I note  the time (1:51PM) so I can look it up on the radio station's  playlist when I get home. But when I do, I can't find it. There's a bunch of songs around that time, but I recognize all of them, so by process of elimination I deduce that the one I heard is not there. However, there is a gap in the playlist from 1:39 to 1:51. Could it have slipped in there?

So I sent 'em a message, and in short order I got a reply, but it's from Gustav at Alternative Portland (94.7). He answered  my question, but he answered it for his station, not for Charlie. So I tried again, and this morning I got a reply from Gary Bloxom of Entercom, and he's got the answer! Yea Gary!

While we are doing links, Greg has a website of his own.

The video is a little confusing, but it all works out in the end, so everything's OK.

Update November 2016 replaced missing video. How long does a copyright last? Yes, I know Disney's last for a thousand years, but what about everybody else? This video got taken down because of copyright claims, but presto, and another one pops up.

Update March 2020 replaced missing video.

Motorcycle of the Day

California Bob found this old (1967) Benelli 250 on Ebay.

Michigan Mike kibitzes:
Wards and Sears used to remarket Benellis, Puchs, Bridgestones and those relabelled small displacement Indians back in the 60's. It's a good way to pick up a hidden collectible, although most people who like those things already know the whole array of labels applied, what factory they were made, what the local town ethnicity makeup was, and the source of the aluminum forged in the Caucasus'es for the right side case. 

"Yep, that thar is a a 1962, but really it was brought over in a whole surplus shipment from Sevastapol, so it's actually a '53.. A Wards purchasing agent by the name of Herman Smurdgen from Rockford, Illinois heard about it from his sister's cousin Henry who worked on Great Lakes ships when crates of 'em were brought into Chicago. The local German community was talented at cleaning up the machines and getting them ready for sale, so they put those Wards labels on 'em and stuck 'em in the new auto service stores. It's got that funny 17 pitch chain and cogs, so if that breaks, you may as well throw the whole thing into the pond. I'll give you $25 bucks for it."