Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Where are we?

I was trying to explain something to the kids. I started with 'a good job' and how the popular idea of a good job seems to mean working for a 'good' company, with 'good' pay and 'good' benefits. A lot of government jobs fall into that category and I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. The people working in passport control at the airport probably have 'good jobs', but I can't imagine anything worse. Osmany told us that one of his first jobs here in Argentina was working in a call center. You couldn't even go to the bathroom without obtaining permission first. He only lasted three days there. He has a friend who works as a bartender. He makes 150 pesos a night. That translates to about $2 an hour, which is what I made in my first job right out of high school. That is not an attractive salary, but it's better than nothing.
      I then went on to how the people who run businesses are not necessarily very smart. They have found some occupation or service that makes money and they have stuck with it. They may have put a lot of work into it and refined their operation, but just because they have made a bunch of money doesn't mean they are experts on anything outside of their business. Kind of like actors who speak up in favor of political causes.
     The kids opinion of this was that it was all obvious and why was I wasting time going over things they already knew, but then the conversation took a left turn and wandered off into the weeds.

    Took me a bit to figure out the answer to that last question, but I think I have it. Anytime you are making a plan, it helps to know where you are starting from. If you and a friend are trying to get to Chicago and one of you thinks you are in New York, and the other thinks they are in Los Angeles, you are not going to be able to agree on which direction to head. You should figure out where you are first before you try and make any plans.

How many screws do you need?

DC-3 Wing Attachment Flange and Bolts
Iaman has been perusing the Hollywood archives again:
Watching a good old John Wayne movie, with Marshall Dillon (James Arness) as a fellow pilot flying a C-47 [DC3] 
I wonder alot about airplane wing spars.  Wondering about the main DC3 wing spar, I didn't find wing spars. Each wing was attached with ~365 1/4' bolts on a flange. 
Neat DC-3 site.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Went out for breakfast at ‘Oui Oui’, a French Cafe. When we got back to house we found the power was off. Inspecting the circuit breaker panels (2 in the entry way, 1 upstairs in the hall) did not reveal any that had been tripped, though 2 of the breakers upstairs had been turned off. A reconnaissance of the immediate neighborhood revealed that the pizza shop across the street and the automobile repair garage down the block both had power. One block to the north some utility workers had arrived in force, though whether they work for the power company or not is unknown at this point. Two guys were inspecting the inside of a refrigerator-sized steel box that was permanently installed on the sidewalk. However, the power lines are above ground, strung on poles, so it seems unlikely they were looking into our power problem. 50 feet up the street a group of men was maneuvering a portable air compressor (a big one, like those used with jackhammers, not like the little ones used by house painters) out into the street, around the corner and up the alley. I think they were with the two guys who were looking into the box. They might have been from the gas company.

Osmany tells us that milk will stay edible for up to three days without refrigeration if you keep it in the shade. Hard to believe. I suppose it is possible if it
  1. has been pasteurized, and
  2. has not been opened.

I was surprised, Kathryn was disgusted.
We went out this afternoon. About a block from the house we passed three guys from the electric company working on fat cables in the wall of a building. Maybe electrical power is routed underground and all the cables on poles are telephone and cable TV (communications). In any case these guys told us an underground cable had failed and they were repairing it,

We went out to TIgre this afternoon. It is a 30 minute electric train ride to the west. The hot wire in the subway is suspended above the cars, so there is no third rail on the ground with the regular rails, The train has a third rail that is interrupted by road and pedestrian crossings and assorted other railroad related obstacles. Anyone foolish enough could walk right over and get themselves fried without any problem. Each car in the train has contacts and a motorized wheels, so any interruption in power only hits one car at a time.

Tigre is a Disneyeque tourist town. Very nice if you like that sort of thing. It was hot. In the shade it was hot. In the sun it was scorching. Not a very pleasant outing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bartender Voodoo

Have a half full bottle of a fizzy adult beverage left over at the end of evening? Drop a spoon, handle first, in the opening at the top. Fizz will keep for a couple of days. Or so some people claim. Probably find out.


Bruce Chard [tm] and barracuda

Osmany is telling us about fishing in Cuba. He is wading out into the surf and catching fish with a rod and reel. He keeps the fish he has caught in the water. He is doing pretty well, but then a barracuda comes along and eats all the fish he has caught. That is unfortunate, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. But the next day the same thing happens, and on third day when it happens again he decides that enough is enough and decides to deal with this problem, so he rigs his rod for barracuda and goes back into the water. Was he being foolish, brave, or just P.O-ed? I dunno, but he caught the barracuda and he still has all his fingers and toes. And barracuda makes some good eatin'.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Duck Me 2

Spitfire flies LOW over TV presenter

I was sure I had posted this before, but I couldn'a find it tonight, cap'n, so I'm posting it again. Actually, this is somebody's truncated copy because the original twerps have disabled embedding,

P.S. YouTube seems to have changed the default dimensions for embedded videos for my Chromebook, or maybe it's just the wacko videos I've been posting.

Update August 2015. Replaced the video. 
Update July 2021. Replaced the video.

Cool Water

Cool Water - Sons of the Pioneers - 1947

Darling daughter decided we should go out today. We'll only go to a couple of places she says. We'll only have to walk a couple of blocks, she says. We were gone for six weeks and covered 6,000 miles. I was begging for water by the time we got back. I'm never going out again.

Buenos Aires

Went for a walk around the neighborhood yesterday afternoon. B.A. is fabulous. The variety of buildings is a constant source of fascination. Old, new, trashified, sparkly neat and clean, It's just like any big city in the USA except everything is slightly different. And in Spanish. I would post some photos, but that would have required taking some, and if I started that I would still be out there. So much cool stuff, so much going on.
    Daring daughter kept reminding me to keep my voice down so as not to attract undue attention. Whether this is from a genuine fear of thieves or her more personal fear of being embarrassed by her father is up for debate.
    I didn't notice anything frightening. The vibe was calm, people just going about their lives. Old people, young people, mothers with children, couples with babies. I did see policemen standing on street corners on the busier streets, and this is a semi-upscale neighborhood, so I guess that's about right.
   We did come across one group of a dozen or so young men standing by their motorcycles on the sidewalk, but they appeared to be just getting together on a Friday evening to talk. My impression was probably colored by the fact that they all appeared to be clean-cut young men. Nothing scary about their appearance.
    On our way into town from the airport ($50 US, plus tip) I did see one burned out car sitting on the street. It appeared to have been there for a while, all traces of the fire had vanished to be replaced by rust. Rumor has it that the mayor is trying to improve trash collection. That would be a good thing, as long as they don't go overboard, which is one of the things I don't like about the fascist neighborhood where I live in the states. Nobody is even allowed to think about making a mess there.
    Compared to sterile U.S. suburbia, B.A. feels alive.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tierra del Fuego

Arakur hotel in Ushuaia, Argentina, where the Top Gear team stayed
It got a little warm today here in Buenos Aires so I'm walking around the house trying to sort out remote control air conditioners and I notice one was made in Tierra del Feugo. What? Tierra del Fuego is like the end of the world, to put it politely. It's the last stop before Antarctica. Why would anyone build a factory there? You don't suppose tax breaks have anything to do with it, do you?

Top Gear caused a bit of a stir here recently. I blame 'but-I-did-not-do-anything-I-swear' Jeremy what's his curls.

Minions Sing Jingle Bells?

Via Dutiful daughter.


At dinner last night I made use of the phrase 'the pot calling the kettle black', which got me a puzzled look from a resident Argentine, whereupon dutiful daughter embarked on an explanation. Evidently that particular idiom is not common in Latin America.


What is wrong with airline companies? I mean nothing they do makes any sense. They don't make any money. If you look at their history, overall, they have lost more money than they have made. So why do they even bother? It could be that they are getting funds from other places besides their customers. The government could be subsidizing them for their own nefarious purposes, or the aircraft manufacturers could be giving them kickbacks so they will continue to buy airplanes. Or maybe there is some subset of rich guys who just feel compelled to own an airline, no matter what the cost. Kind of like some of the guys who own professional sports franchises. It doesn't matter if it makes any money or not as long as they are in the game. Can't win if you don't play.
    Our flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires was aboard a Boeing 767 Dreamliner. What a misnomer. A sardine can would be a more appropriate label. I just received a request from the airline company to complete a survey regarding my recent flight.  This how it starts out:

  1. How would you rate your on-board greeting from the flight attendant (e.g., welcomed with a smile at the aircraft boarding door, smile during service delivery)? 
  1. How would you rate the helpfulness and courteousness of the flight attendants (e.g., answering questions, offering assistance)? 
  1. How would you rate the timeliness and appropriateness of the information provided by the flight attendants (e.g., flight delays were communicated and updated)? 
  1. How would you rate the availability of the flight attendants (e.g., responded promptly to call bells, walked through the cabin enough)? 
  1. How would you rate the professional image of the flight attendants (e.g., personal appearance is well kept, uniform is neat and clean, professional demeanor)? 
Are you freaking kidding me? You lock me in a telephone booth size cell, wait, no, make that a coffin size cell for ten hours and you want me to evaluate my jailers on the pleasantness of their demeanor and the neatness of their attire? FOAD Y W MF.

If you are going to lose money on your airline, and we have already established that you are, is it really necessary to make the rest of us suffer along with you? Give us a little more room, for Pete's sake. That way at least when you go bankrupt people will remember you fondly instead of thinking good riddance to those worthless conniving scumbags.

Meanwhile I think the flight attendants might have a case with OHSA over the width of the aisles. It might mean passengers would be squeezed a little tighter, but at least you would be able to walk to your seat like a normal person instead of having to slither like a snake.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

In the air

I wrote this a couple of days ago, more or less. I was surprised yesterday to find out that it was Christmas eve. I mean we left days before Christmas. I tried posting this on the way here, but it was all I could do to get this written. Trying to accomplish anything more using the wretched touchpad was hopeless.

I must be a little groggy. When I tried to logon to my Chromebook I couldn’t find the ‘T’ on the keyboard. First I used the ‘R’ and when that didn’t work I used the ‘F’ key, which didn’t work either. The keys are labled with lower case letters, so that may have contributed to my confusion.  The Chromebook’s response didn’t help much either. It tells me it is ‘unable to verify the password’. Could that be because we are not connected to the internet? Well, let’s see if we can connect. Point and click and point and click once or twice more and it says we’re good. Try logging on again and this time we get it right.
    This can’t be right because how can you work off-line if you have to have a connection in order to log on? OK, you don’t need a connection, you just need to be able to enter your password correctly.
   Flying on commercial airliners must be what I imagine living in Japan is like. Crammed in, cheek by jowl, and everyone trying to put a good face on a wretched situation. The seats are so narrow that the man sitting next to me and I cannot both put our arms down at the same time. One of us has to fold their arms across his chest or rest his forearms on the little fold down tray table. My weighing 265 pounds couldn’t be a contributing factor, could it?
   I am sitting in an exit row. There are only two seats here instead of three, but I’m not sure that it provides any benefit. When I first sat down I realized there was an extra under-seat storage space in front of us, so I slid my backpack in there. I was quickly disabused of this notion when the woman diagonally in back of me told me that was her space and she needed it for her purse. Well, excuse me, Ms. mighty frequent flyer. You wouldn’t need it for your purse if it wasn’t the size of a steamer trunk. Don’t you be talking about my back pack.
    The worst part of exit row seats is that they don’t recline, not that regular seats recline all that much, but when you are riding in a cattle car every little thing has a big impact. I bought a couple of fancy air-travel pillows for this trip because we are going to be stuck in these glorified beer cans for a very long time and I’m willing to gamble that they might let me catch some Z’s. With no reclination, it didn’t work out. By resting my head on a pillow on top of my arms on the table I was able to at least relax for a bit.


The happy couple took a cab to get here today because the were bringing us a suitcase full of bottled water. Because. Anyway, the cabbie had a sticker on his review mirror that read 'Impaciente' (Impatient). When they inquired, the cabbie tells them that he sometimes gets impatient customers who harangue him to drive faster, get them there quciker, they can't be late. If they annoy him sufficiently, he will stop and tell them to get out or shut up. Ok then.
    Last week, he continues, he kicked out a passenger because he found out he was a government employee. The government steals all our money, so any money you have is stolen, and I don't want any of your dirty money. Admirable, if true. Not often you will find someone who will choose principles over cold hard cash. As to whether the government is all that bad, well, as always, opinions vary.

Christmas in July

70% humidity and 81 degrees today. Yesterday was glorious. The temperature might have gotten to 80 but the humidity was effectively zero.


Buenos Aires Sunshine. See also Rain.
Walking back to house from the all-beef-all-the-time Chinese dinner, we were set upon by a barking spider. This sent Osmany into a paroxysm of laughter. It was so violent that I thought we might have to A) abandon him, or B) call for an ambulance. After umpteen hours the paroxysm subsided. God forbid we should ever be attacked again. I am afraid he might not survive another attack.
      Which reminds me of a story that what's-his-name told about his time in Afghanistan when the Afghans were fighting the Russians. He tells us that a barking spider attack is both the rudest and the funniest thing that can happen.
     Osmany is from Cuba. I don't know whether this has any bearing on the matter or not.

Update 2015 August. Corrected a typo.

Chromebook problems in BA

I sent a message to the help desk, but since it was so eloquent (that's a euphemsim) I thought I would share.
Why is help chat unavailable? How do I turn off the blinking (that's a euphemism) touchpad? How do I correct spelling errors? Nevermind, a mouse will fix that. Why isn't touchpad in the dictionary? But that is all incidental to main issue. Why aren't local files automatically uploaded to the net? And did you really download all of my documents from the net to my Chromebook? By the way I plugged the charger into an adapter and plugged that into the wall and I was rewarded with a big fat spark. I suspect the charger is toast, but I am loathe to try it in case something worse happens. BA is a big city, but I am afraid finding a replacement charger is liable to take all my available time and cash. P.S. I was going to say chromebook isn't in the dictionary, but it was only the lower case 'C' that was clamoring for attention. And why do I think adaptor should be spelled with an 'O'?
Update: A Google-bot called me back immediately after I sent my message, only to tell me that my wait time would be 30 minutes. Are you kidding me? I am going to hang on hold for half an hour waiting to talk to someone about something simple? Well, thanks but no. I will figure this out on my own. On the plus side I now know that the house phone here works, which was kind of in doubt because I tried to call Devil daughter earlier and all I got was a phone company bot telling me some useless information, although I was able to pick out a couple of uno's and a sero.

Monday, December 22, 2014


White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Dec. 3, 2014. An A-10 on dirt. Must be really hard dirt to keep those tiny little wheels from sinking in. U.S. Air Force Photo by Ryan Callaghan

Indian Space Research Organisation's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mark III) lifts off carrying Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) from the east coast island of Sriharikota, India, on Dec. 18, 2014. Xinhua/ISRO
Looks like Orion might have some competition.

South Korean Frigate picked up a little ice on the way to Russia's port city Vladivostok. Photo:

Ook Ook!

Donovan With The Jeff Beck Group Goo goo barabajagal

Anonymous left an ookie comment which prompted me to reply (in my head) ook ook a boo, which triggered a faint memory of a tune. A few seconds of turning it over and I realized it was an old Donovan tune, but the actual words escaped me. Google 'donovan songs' and a short list of his tunes pops up. Reading through the list I come across Barabajagal and we have contact!
    Now all we need is a video for me blog. There isn't much out there. Most of them just have a single still image, which isn't really much of a video. There's a live recording of a recent performance, but the sound is wretched, meaning it is very far from the original studio recording that my brain requires.
   And then there is this one, which is just way out there. I mean who applies Donovan to everyday scenes at an elementary school? The video ends a minute early. You can hear the whole thing here.
    Children are often referred to as monkeys, so maybe that's the connection, and if so then The Rolling Stones have something to say about that.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Orangutans are people too!

Sandra at the Buenos Aires Zoo
A court in Argentina has ruled that a shy orangutan who spent the last 20 years in a zoo can be granted some legal rights enjoyed by humans. - BBC
I think this is a step in the right direction. A fundamental part of our civilization / lifestyle is that with rights come responsibilities. People have been hollering about rights for like forever, but the responsibilities part gets pretty short shrift. Which is one reason things are as screwed up as they are. If the courts can do something for the great apes, I'm all in favor of it. Of course this is happening in Argentina where it is almost a non-issue, not in Africa which is where the big problem is.

The Key

Cautious - An assurance class tug similar to the W88 seen in the movie 'The Key'.
Iaman reports:
Watched a William Holden  movie The Key this morning.
Nice gritty oily 1940's  shipboard scenes.
& Sophia Loren.
& Action.
Coincidentally, Comrade Misfit put up a video of a shipboard engine, which looked a whole lot like this clip taken from the movie.

We can't just mention Sophia without taking advantage of the opportunity, now can we?

Recolor of Sophia Loren by Jakob Staermose

Careful, you'll put your eye out!

Merry Christmas, kid.

Catch 22

Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

What's the deal with Argentina?

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Photographer: Diego Levy/Bloomberg
Argentina is the only country in the world that was 'developed’ in 1900 and ‘developing’ in 2000.
Once upon a time, Argentina was a very rich country. There is little disagreement that this time was in the period before WWI. Level of per capita income in 1913 in:
  • Argentina (USD 3,797 in 1992 US Dollars) compared favorably to that of 
  • France      (USD 3,452) and 
  • Germany  (USD 3,134).
Extracted and paraphrased from an article on VoxEU dot org by Nauro F Campos 20 December 2014. He goes over a number of factors and theories to that try explain what happened. Near as I can tell they made some bad choices. You'd think they would learn. They've got a new head of the state oil company and he seems to be making some progress. Or not. We shall see how it does.

Some people have been suggesting that El Presidente Cristina Kirchner might be getting a little flakey. 

On one hand I am inclined to believe this: 'Yes! That's the problem! That woman is nuts! Get her out of there and get the right man in there and things will quickly improve!'

But then I realize those suggestions may not have any merit, and they might have been made:
  1. just to create a fuss so as to garner more attention for the people making the suggestions and so make them feel important and/or increase their ratings, which leads to increased advertising revenue, or
  2. as part of a political attack to further destabilize Argentina, or raise opposition to El Presidente.
Financial contortions seem to be the biggest news coming out of Argentina these days. That and oil, which is basically the same thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


A toe tapping romp through (mostly) vintage cigarette TV advertising with music by Asleep at the Wheel. Also featured is the earliest filmed ad for Admiral Cigarettes, an 1897 Edison film, and a Fred & Barney from the Flintstones smoking Winston Cigarettes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Post SONY Security

The last couple of days I've been getting phone calls from insurance agents wanting to talk to my wife. There got to be so many of them I started to wonder what was going on. When I inquired, the agent of the moment tells me that my wife had requested an auto insurance quote. Well, that's weird. When I tell my wife about this she denies ever asking for anyone for such a thing.
     The number of calls and emails from headhunters have also jumped up, which makes me think somebody tickled my file. Could all this have been triggered by the North Korean hack attack on SONY?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, blogger has changed their 'I am not a robot' test. Used to be you had to type in some numbers or letters that only a true human [tm] could decipher from a picture. Now all you have to do is check the box. Curiously, the box is not a picture but an html construct. What you see above were cropped from screen shots.

Chromebook bonus: you can crop the screenshot when you make it, you don't need to take a separate step. Magic key combination: ctrl-shift + funny square light bulb lying on its side symbol, right above the six key. Now where do I find the icon for that key? And what is it supposed to be?

U-Boat 977

Bought this book on a recommendation. Showed up in a padded envelope yesterday. The package was so thin I didn't imagine it could be a book, but here it is. Look at the price on the cover: 35 cents! How old is this thing? Written in 1952, this copy printed in 1957. It is basically intact, but the pages are thoroughly yellowed. I don't expect it to survive much longer.


Dollar mouse shipped direct to my house from Singapore
I bought a refurbished Toshiba Chromebook to take with me to Argentina. I really need something to put underneath it to raise the back edge so the keyboard is tilted toward me, but that's my problem. It has a touchpad, which I loathe. Fortunately I had this mouse (above) that I had purchased on a whim because one dollar, are you freaking kidding me? Ok, it might have been two dollars, and it took a week or two to get here, but still. Seems like it would have been cheaper for the company to just throw it in the trash rather than to pay the postage, but I dunno, maybe getting your trash hauled away is really expensive in Singapore.
    It worked fine for a while, but then it started acting really flakey and I thought, well, what did you expect for a dollar? But then it went back to working okay, and then it went to being flakey again, and this time I realized it was because my left hand was reaching across the keyboard to the number 8 and 9 keys and I was letting my hand rest on the touch pad. So, nothing wrong with mouse, it's just the touch pad giving me trouble. Again.
    Big advantage of mouse over touchpad: right click. There's probably some key combination that will allow you to preform the same function with the touchpad, or there might be some magic finger gesture you can make, but you know what? I don't care. I have a mouse and I know how to use it so that's what I am going to do.


Bill is... concerned, about this reentry trajectory.
I got to thinking about the Orion spacecraft the other day, in particular splashdown and recovery of the capsule. The US Navy had a ship standing by and they were able to successfully retrieve the capsule, which is good. But then I got to wondering about how accurate was the splashdown? Was it within a few yards of the predicted point of impact, or a few miles? Or should we be talking about hundreds of miles? I mean the thing is traveling 5 miles per second, it wouldn't take a very big mistake to have you end up on the wrong side of the world. Even if you miss your landing site by only 100 miles, it is still going to take the recovery ship hours to get to you, and that could lead to a sticky situation. One way to compensate would be to deploy several ships in the vicinity, but that would raise the cost. Sending even a small Navy ship out has got to be expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if a destroyer cost something like a million dollars a day to operate. Makes that million dollars a year to field a soldier in Afghanistan look like a real bargain.

MX re-entry vehicles over Kwajalein, following their launch aboard an MX missile some 30 minutes earlier from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, October 1985.
     So I started poking around, looking for answers, and not finding much of anything. And then, snap, I realized this is probably all classified because of nuclear warheads and ICBM-s (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles). You don't need to be real accurate with ICBM-s because, well, nuclear bombs. Still, you would like to be within a mile or so of your target. You can bet the military has spent billions on this very problem. When I started looking into this from the ICBM angle I found all kinds of information, everything that is except how accurate they are.
    The big factors affecting reentry are the time when fire your retro-rockets, and how much you slow down. You want to be accurate about this because a little too much or too little, too soon or too late, can easily kill you. But after you've fired the retro-rockets there isn't much you can do except pray.
    Except I seem to recall something about Orion being able to adjust it's attitude, which could easily affect it's trajectory, except how can you tell? GPS will be useless as the fireball you generate as you plunge into the atmosphere pretty much ruins any chance to sending or receiving any radio communications. Well, how about inertial guidance? That used to require big heavy chunks of equipment that was marginally accurate and marginally reliable, but I think we've gotten better at it. So it's not inconceivable that Orion was able to steer itself quite accurately.
    Once you deploy the parachutes, you kind of lose your steering capability, but you also become much more visible, so the pickup crew should be able to find you. As if they haven't been tracking you on radar since you appeared over the horizon ten minutes ago.

Minuteman III attacks Kwajalein

This video has some odd bits, but it also has some good shots.

Other posts about Orion. Most of them are about the spaceship, only a couple are about the airplane.
A couple of other posts about reentry.
Some posts about inertial navigation.

Update January 14, 2015. Just received an automated reply from NASA about this issue. As you might expect it contained no useful information.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Girls with Guns, er, Motorcycles, er, Guns AND Motorcyles

Cuba Police Woman
Shocked I was when I first saw this. Cuban Police use Harleys!?! Then I poked around a bit and found that it's probably a Yamaha. Well, that makes a little more sense, but I would have expected something more along the lines of a 50 year old Honda Cub. Well, it is a Police State, and the cops do have important work to do, like arresting Jewish activists for smuggling illegal tech into the country so old people could talk to their grand kids, or something. Nothing worse than subversive activity. Just ask Joe McCarthy.

North Korea, Part N-teenth

Jieun Baek and a North Korean military woman officer in front of the USS Pueblo.
Previous posts about North Korea.


The Godfather Part II - Havana, January 1, 1959 - end of Batista regime.

It's about god damn time we normalized relations with Cuba. Anyone who disagrees is either a moron or is in cahoots with the Mafia (that covers at least half the people in this country). The Google has all the links I could want about the Mafia in Cuba. Remember, the Mafia killed Kennedy.
    Some people say we shouldn't be dealing with a police state like Cuba. I say that's a little like the pot calling the kettle black. We have the biggest security organization in the world. OK, China's is probably bigger in terms of manpower, but ours is no slouch. Future wars are going to be cyber-wars fought by secret security organizations. Terrorists just serve to keep people distracted while the king monkeys steal all the monkey biscuits.

P.S. North Korean leadership has no sense of humor. Wait, that can't be true, everyone has a sense of humor. I wonder what makes them laugh? I'll bet seeing SONY fall on their face got a few chuckles out of them.

Update July 2018 replaced missing video.

North Korea Hacks SONY

My first thought when I saw this photo was that this crew is just about to start a big Broadway style song and dance number.
My first thought when I heard that North Korea was suspected of hacking SONY was, 'yeah, right', those guys can't even tie their own shoes. But then I realized that, just like every group of people everywhere, they do have some smart cookies. They may be impoverished, foolish and the government may be tyrannical, but they have nuclear power, biggish missiles and nuclear weapons.
    Computers can give a person tremendous leverage in tackling certain kinds of problems, so the idea of North Korea hacking SONY is at least plausible.
    The problem with computer security is that few people in the PC side of the business gave it very much thought. Everyone was too busy building more and faster computers with more capacity. It's kind of like big residential developments. Here's your house. Oh, you want a lock? OK, here's a skeleton key, that will keep out the riff-raff, mostly because the riff-raff doesn't know what a house is, much less what a lock is, and the idea of a key is completely unfathomable.
    That worked for awhile, but eventually the riff-raff caught on and started figuring out that those skeleton key locks that came with those early computers were easy to pick. The problem is that there are whole bunch of computers out there with skeleton key locks, and more are pouring off the assembly lines every day, so any security detail is going to be faced with trying to protect a whole Levittown of houses with minimal security from a sophisticated gang of thieves with stealth capabilities.
     You will note that I specified PC (Personal Computers) when I talked about weak security. IBM had a pretty elaborate security system for their mainframes. Of course, an IBM mainframe wasn't something you bought on a whim at Best Buy. It was more like a massive capital outlay, on the order of building a new automobile factory, so they could afford to spend a little more on locks.
    The security protocol on IBM mainframes had like seventeen different levels, from repair technicians to operators to programmers, and no one had access to the whole system. Mostly they were compartmentalized, but there was some overlap. For instance, operators could start or stop programs, but they couldn't modify them. Programmers could change their programs, but couldn't choose which data files to operate on. The whole scheme kind of reminds me of North Korea.

THINK, Fool!


 Roberta X has a fine post this morning about thinking. You have to follow the link to read it, so do that now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bike of the Day

A soldier escorts school children on motorbike after they were rescued from the school that is under attack by militant gunmen in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar, Dec. 16, 2014.

Girls with Guns

Malta Republic Day Parade 2014


Israeli and Greek jet fighters exercise over the Negev desert.


Stu put up a post about a Lego interferometer today, which reminded me of my post on the same subject (though not Lego related).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Girls with Guns

Russian translator. Brazil bought a batch of Mi-35 Helicopter Gunships from Russia. That is an auto-cannon underneath the nose of the chopper.

Rickey Gadson’s Ninja H2 Motorcycle

Rickey Gadson’s Custom Ninja H2 Hybrid The Only One Of Its Kind
Canadian Kawasaki Motors Inc.

Crazy, man. There are 2 versions: the H2, which makes 200 horsepower, and the H2R which makes 300. Engines are 1000 cc, 4 cylinder inline, DOHC. The differences  between the two are in the details, cams, timing, boost, stuff you can't see. Plus we have a black man riding it. Nice change of pace after all the shit coming out of Ferguson (that would be the black folks rioting in Ferguson Missouri, in case you haven't been paying attention).

P.S. The 'hybrid' in the title has nothing to do with the way the word is used on commuter mobiles. Actually I'm not sure what it refers to here. The bike does sort of look hybridized.

Update May 2023 replace missing video

Cell Phone Lenses

XCSOURCE Micro Lens Kit

I just stumbled over this. It's a little disturbing how fast things are changing and new stuff is appearing. I suppose I shouldn't try and keep up anymore, and I try not to, but then something like this shows up and I realize just how far out of it I am. I really wish it was beer thirty right about now.

Gift Cards

Cell phones, gift cards, cash
Marcel's post on this subject opened a door in my brain, and this fell out.

At Costco the other day they were selling $100 gift cards for something like $60. I think they were for something other than Costco, but I don’t remember what. I didn't buy any.

My family uses gift cards as gifts for co-workers, mostly. I hate the things, though I do carry one from Powell's (City of Books). I go there at least once a year and usually spend around a hundred dollars. Since it's in downtown Portland, going there is a bit of an expedition, so we'll load up the rejects (all the books we don't want) and cart them down there as well. Powell's buys used books, but not everything is worth money. Last time we went I think they only took about a quarter of what we had. Drivel isn't worth much. They will dispose of the dross if you like, or at least they used to. Who knows, the way things are going there might be a disposal fee for unwanted books now.

The point (I almost forgot what I was trying to say) is that while Powell's will pay you cash for your used books, you can get a gift card instead and the value on the card is like 20 or 30% higher. Of course it's only good at Powell's. I have one in my wallet now. It's been there so long I have no idea how much money is on it. Might be $50. All I have to do is carry it around for the next six months until I go to Powell's again, and then I have to remember I have it with me when I go to check out. At this point I've done it often enough that it is kind of engraved on my brain. On the other hand, my brain is so old that some of the detailed engravings are starting to fade. So, like many things in life, it's a crap shoot as to whether I will ever get my money out of it.

When our kids were kids we used to buy them presents for Christmas and birthdays. When they got to high school birthday presents turned into simple cell phone service for a year (simple as opposed to smart. That smart s***'s expensive). That was relatively cheap and simple. It also put a glaze on my parsimonious nature. A 'real' daddy would have automagically provided cell phone service for his little darlings AND given them glorious presents. Now we just give them cash.

Which reminds me that when I was a kid, the story was that Jews gave each other cash for Christmas. Pardon me, Hanuka. Somehow this was considered gauche. Our kind of people gave presents. Something about knowing the person and knowing what they would like, or need, or perhaps because you could make something that wouldn't cost you any of money you didn't have, and hand made presents are always more highly valued. I still have half a dozen items my kids made when they were little, back before they knew what money was.

The thing about Jews was kind of weird. They were Jews, and we were not, though I'm not really sure what we were. Scientists, maybe? You couldn't really tell who was a Jew just by seeing them, but if you got to know them it quickly became obvious. Or sometimes not so quickly, sometimes it was only eventually. I guess it depends on what kind of relationship you have and how much you care about this.

These days I tend to think the Jews preference for giving cash reflects a more hard bitten view of how the world works. Nobody cares about trinkets and gee-gaws, cash is what makes the world go round, and if you run short you run the risk of falling in a hole and disappearing. People who give physical gifts are either living in a fantasy world where nothing bad can ever happen, or they are too broke to buy anything and so spent their evenings for the last six weeks hand carving the whatever it is.

One Week Wonder Time-Lapse

Watch an airplane being built in one week at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.

Via Iaman, who says "....and I thought it took 10 years to build your own airplane." It might take you ten years of elapsed time, but these guys probably invested as much time and energy in building this one. It looks like you've got at least 50 people working on this thing, 24 hours a day for 7 seven days. That comes to 8,400 man-hours. If you spend your weekends for ten years building an airplane that also comes to 8,400 hours. (8,320 actually. Close enough .)

Sally Forth

This is the first half of Sunday's strip. You might be able to find the whole thing here. I mean it's hard to tell with all these cookies and paywalls and security breaches running around loose.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Black Flag

There seems to be several flavors of black flags flying above the world's terrorists. Here's two.

Reading about a hostage situation is Sydney (warning: it will eat your computer), I noticed this post script:
In August 2014, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared anyone carrying The Black Standard could be arrested.
It is also banned from public demonstration in the Netherlands
The use of the image the flag for non-educational purposes is forbidden in Germany.
I wonder how that might play in the USA. This might not be the time to quote H. L. Mencken.

Charles De Gaulle and the Algerian War

I watched this yesterday over on Military Photos dot net, but when I stopped by again today it was gone, the thread was closed and I have no idea why. I think it's a fine film. It explains a lot about the title subjects, stuff that I had never heard before. History isn't my strong suit, so maybe I'm missing something, but it will do for now.

David Bowie 'Fame' 1975

Caught this tune on the radio while I was waitin' for my drugs. Had me dancing in my seat. I wondered who it was so I looked it up when I got home. I was thinking it was some black group like the Isley brothers. David Bowie? Are you kidding me? 1975? Are you double kidding me? I would have placed it somewhere in the 90's. Well, I'm not Dustbury. He would have known all this. The great Wiki tells us: In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single "Fame".

Joy to the World

I dunno, maybe I'm a racist, or maybe I'm just elitist, but Yaya's video is just pathetic. The card image is pretty good, I'll give him that.
I am having a wonderful phone conversation this morning with a charming young woman representing Frontier Communications about a past due notice on my internet / TV account. Most of the time I spent on hold listening to horribly distorted music. The sound quality when I was actually talking to the person was marginally better. You might want to blame it on the speakerphone, but no, that's disallowed. It's a brand new, AT & T cordless phone, and for every other phone call I've had with some faceless corporate drone, it has worked fine. After 25 minutes and having repeated the facts of the case three times I now have a fax number which I am to use to communicate evidence in support of my case. Color me happy, or is that harpy?
. . .
I logged onto my bank, found the payment record. It has a cryptic confirmation number. Press the print screen button, crop the image to the essentials using Picasa and then used FaxZero to send it. Faxzero says they accept doc, pdf and some other file types, but nothing about Jpeg's, which is what my cropped screen shot is. I wonder what will happen. Will Frontier get an image, or 25 pages of hex dump? Stay tuned for the further adventures of Milquetoast Man.

Our modern world runs on giant, soulless corporations that mostly work very well. They keep us supplied with food, water, power, transportation, entertainment and an endless variety of gadgets. A great many people have worked very hard to make these organizations productive and efficient. Problem is that in streamlining these operations they become more susceptible to grit in the gears. Their normal reaction is to just kick it out. That's when your high-tech new ride breaks down, you find yourself stranded by the side of the road with a dead cell phone that wouldn't work anyway because your account has been terminated for non-payment, because your credit card has been canceled because your number and 27 million others got stolen by the Romanian mafia who sold it to some grifters in Kansas city who tried to buy a boatload of Christmas presents over the internet.

Trying to unstick these kind of problems probably consumes more time than people spend on logical thought, which isn't saying much being as logical thought is an alien concept to most people. But hey, it makes for great entertainment, er, good entertainment maybe? How about Jerry Springer-esque level of noise generation?

Last week I got a weird number on my phone WHILE I WAS TRYING TO CONDUCT BUSINESS. Cursed interlopers, and how did call waiting get turned on? Gaaahhhh (or words to that effect)! Tried to figure out what it was. Finally tried the redial button, which formatted the number to look like a phone number with a leading 54. 54 is the country code for Argentina. Oh, it was probably Devil daughter calling. Or her phone thief. Argentina is full of phone thieves you know.
But why was the phone ringing in my ear when I am trying to have a conversation? Try going online with Verizon dot com, but evidently I don't know my user ID. It doesn't tell me that I've entered an invalid ID, it just says it can't process it right now. I fuss for a bit, but realize I probably will have a better chance by calling, so I go rooting around through Mom's stuff for the password. I find a card with some chicken scratchings that might be current, or might be from the last century. It's kind of hard to tell, it's yellow and brittle and there are bits flaking off of it. Oh, that's dried cheese.

I manage to get through the robo-cop gauntlet and talk to a real person and I find out that call waiting on my phone got turned on by mistake! Death to the infidels who would dare to make such error in our holy sacred communications system. The prophet, PBUH,  would be displeased.
The nice lady I talked to turned it off, PBUHer.

Okay, things are calm now. Callus Interruptus has been turned off, and I've figured out that it probably was Kathryn calling, so I tried to call her back. First I try the redial button: YOUR CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED AS DIALED. OK, how do you get a long distance line? Zero Zero maybe? Punch buttons on the phone until I get the stored number edited and try again: YOUR CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED AS DIALED. OK, not zero-zero. What's the prefix Google? How about 011? WE ARE UNABLE TO COMPLETE YOUR CALL. TO TALK TO A CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE, PLEASE CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE AT goobley-goobley-star-gooble.
And to think I used to be in love with all this techo-gimickry. Well, I got a blog post out of this.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tractor Girl

Dutch actress and adventurer Manon Ossevoort driving her tractor across Africa
A young woman from Holland has driven a tractor to the South Pole. She just arrived there this last week. It took her a few weeks or a few years, depending on where you want to start counting.
    She started out many moons ago on a 34 year old farm tractor which she may have driven across Europe and Africa. Or maybe the North Atlantic. The story seems to be more about story telling and dreams than about what actually happened. Maybe you need to read the book. Anyway, Iceland seems to be the last place she was before Johannesburg.

Massey Ferguson 35. Most of the ones on the net have red hoods. Ours was gray, though a bit more faded than this one.
     I was impressed with the age of this tractor, although I probably shouldn't have been. We had two old tractors on the farm (Highwater Orchard, the infamous). One was a compact Massey Ferguson which had an integrated hydraulic lift (also known as a 3 point hitch).

Not ours, but it could have been. Even the headlight is broken.
The other was an ancient Massey Harris 44 where you sat 6 feet off the ground. Old, old, old. At least that's how I remember it. Turns out it was probably no older than I was at the time, which was only about 15.

A little more reading and I find out that Manon started her expedition back in 2005 and got as far as Cape Town and then her luck ran out. Recently her luck improved and she resumed her journey, flying in a Russian cargo plane along with the shiny new tractor provided by Massey Ferguson , to Antarctica.

Once she got to Antarctica it only took her about three weeks to get to the South Pole. While she was pretty much on her own driving across Africa, for this leg of the trip there was a support crew with a couple of trucks. Good idea. I think you'd be pretty foolish to try this all by your lonesome. You might be wondering about driving tractors in Antarctica, but it seems that the first journey that crossed the whole continent used tractors, tractors very similar to the small one we had on the farm, so this trip was a return visit to former glory for the tractor company. All hail the mighty Massey Ferguson!

So now I'm reading about Antarctica and how it's all covered with snow and ice (well, duh), and how it's really thick. So how thick is it? A hundred feet? A couple of hundred feet? Thicker. Remember it's been snowing done there for billions of years and it NEVER melts. Are you ready for this? It's two MILES thick. If we had that much ice here Mt. Hood would be obliterated.

Laser measurement of elevation via Satellite. Vertical distance is exaggerated.
In some places the ice slopes down toward the edges of the continent. In other places there is an abrupt change in elevation. Notice the line of cliffs in the above image. I've only found one mention that climbing up on top of the ice caused any problem. If might be that the abrupt change of elevation occurs in a hundred miles instead of a thousand, so maybe it isn't a big problem.

Trying to put this story together was exceptionally difficult. It might be a gender thing. I thought the video of the cross Antarctic expedition was great. Direct, succinct and to the point. Everything about Tractor Girl was all touchy freely and scattered from here and gone. That's okay, she's done something very cool.

I'm wondering how much of my attraction to this story was because it was done by a woman. Men do crazy things all the time. I'm thinking it must be because there is something to the story. Top Gear is always doing something crazy, usually really stupid, but they manage to make an entertaining story out of it. I think the thing about this story is that Manon is really trying to make things better. Dreams ARE important.

Normally a story like this would be loaded with links, but today you are going to have to fend for yourselves. I've spent way too much time on this already.

P.S.#1 Re: the Massey Harris tractor. Back then I was just beginning my fascination with all things mechanical and the brakes on this tractor threw me for a loop. They were mounted in the side of the transmission, not even remotely close to the rear axle. The brake shoes were mounted to a panel that was bolted over a hole in the side of the transmission. Inside the hole was the brake drum. Weird, but if you consider the size and weight of the rear wheels (probably a ton, being as they were filled with antifreeze), it makes a certain amount of sense. Those wheels are probably the last thing you want to fool with, and we never did. Yes, I know I'm wondering a little, but man, I thought I was done with tractors, and yet here I am.

P.S.#2 Ever notice how there's an extra 'C' in antarctica? Does anyone ever say ant-ark-tik-uh? No, they don't, they say ant-ar-tik-uh. Or maybe that's just me pirate upbringing showing through. Arrrrggghhh!