Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Archive Part 2

Trinity College Dublin Library
A month or two (or three) ago, I started looking at adding a GUI front end to my gears program, and everything pointed to Qt. I played with that for a bit even though their language of choice is C++, which is not one of my favorites, but if I can get this thing to do what I want I can force myself to like it.

A couple weeks down this road and I run into a wall. I don't even remember what it was now, but it probably involved looking something up and the answer wasn't just right there in front of me (even though it probably was, I just couldn't see it) and I said screw this and went in look of another solution.

So I pointed and clicked I came across something called XKB which seemed to be more my style. It was just C code, no fancy gooble-de-gook. I should be able to do something with this. And so I cut and pasted and fiddled around for a few days and I ran into another wall. What is it with these half baked solutions I keep running into? (I suspect the problem is that all these things were developed by people who where born and raised in Unix land, and I wasn't, so while I might eventually learn my way around, I will never be one of the in-crowd.)

This evening I venture once more into the breach. I'm looking for the same stuff I was looking for the last time, but this time everything I find is different. None of the stuff I found last time even shows up. This time I get a completely different selection of stuff.

What happened? Did I use a different set of search terms? Were all the pages I went to last time replaced? Very weird, but normal. I mean think about it. There are a zillion different webpages out here. You type in a search term and Google, or Yahoo, or whoever, returns a zillion results, or at least they tell you they have a zillion results. I usually just click on the first one which is usually Wikipedia. But now I'm looking for code and Wikipedia is not much help here, so I have to point and click on something else.

I don't know what kind of algorithms search engines use, but it wouldn't take much of a tweak to cause the spotlight of the search to shine on a completely different portion of the internet.

The point I am trying to make is that if you have a million pages of anything, you may as well not have any. No one is going to read a million pages to find the one page they need. Okay, it might be possible, but no one should do it. We need a better scheme.

I guess that's what this blog is. It's my feeble attempt to mark those things that are worthwhile and / or useful and by not giving any references to any useless crap. Well, unless it's funny.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Big Band Mix

Green Eyes 1941 / ORIGINAL / Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly w/ The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

What's wrong with me? What am I doing listening to Big Band music? I dunno, but it's been going on for hours. This tune just happened to be playing when I finished an email, so here it is.

Let's Build An Airplane

My daughter's father-in-law is a doctor on Treasure Island. It has some other Spanish name that I can never remember. Rumor has it that it was the model for the island in the book Treasure Island. I liked the book, so that's what I call it. Treasure Island is part of Cuba, and Cuba, being run by the commies, is impoverished. So I was thinking that the next time somebody goes to visit, they should take a package of medical supplies, you know, stuff that would actually be useful as opposed to trinkets and cute clothes and other such clap-trap as people see and want.

Catamaran Ferry Iris, Cuba

But then I realized that the contents of the package were immaterial compared to the difficulty of getting it there. You can fly to any number of cities on the main island, but getting to Treasure Island is kind of a pain. There is a ferry (a French catamaran, above), but space is limited, tickets are hard to get, you might have to wait a day or two to get on board.

Antonov AN-2 at the Rafael Cabrera Mustelier Airport

There is a semi-regular air service, but the plane is old and small and not all that regular. With demand as high as it is, they obviously need more capacity of some sort.

Now the first world solution to this kind of problem is to buy a ship or an airliner from an established manufacturer and then extract a continuous stream of cash from the sale of tickets. On one hand this makes good economic sense, but on the other, Cuba is impoverished. I'm not sure ticket sales would be enough to pay first world prices for first world equipment. I don't know how they paid for the ferry. Maybe somebody gave it to them. Or maybe I know nothing of communist finance.

What Cuba, and every other impoverished nation needs, is an industrial base so they can build their own stuff. Building airplanes might be just the ticket. Obviously they wouldn't be able to compete on the world market, because the world market wants stuff that is certified safe by the great government bureaucracies that certify such things. But for the parts of the world that are not part of the first world, a home grown aircraft might be just the ticket.

When I first started writing this diatribe, I was going to go off now on how it should be a simple matter for Cuba, with its highly educated workforce, to go into the aircraft manufacturing business. I mean the biggest part of building an airplane is putting the fuselage together and that's just a matter of sheet metal and rivets. Back in WW2 we put a nation of farmers to work building a glorious fleet of aircraft, and by glorious I mean enormous. I suspect that the USA produced on the order of 100,000 aircraft during WW2. So it really shouldn't be that difficult for Cuba to start building their own aircraft, especially since most of the 3rd world could use a nice cheap, sturdy, small airplane.

But then I read about the fastest ship on the block. Turns out it is made in Tasmania, an island off the south Coast of Australia, an island with no industrial base, no coal mines, no bauxite mines, no giant power plants. How could they possibly hope to compete on the world stage? What's wrong with these people, don't they know you can't do that?

Supposedly one of the reasons the USA has been so successful is because of its industrial might, and we were able to develop that because we have big iron and coal deposits. Tasmania doesn't have any of that. I'm pretty sure their aluminum is imported, maybe even from China, and they were still able to develop a successful industrial scale operation. And it is successful, they are selling their boats all over the world.

Maybe I'm thick, but I can't see any reason why Tasmania should be so successful and Cuba should be such a frigging disaster, other than the fact that the Castro brothers are made-men in the mafia founded by Stalin. It's enough to make you a commie hatin' redneck.

Update January 2023 Replaced a stinky link with better one and a dead link with a good one. See the whole story here.


A phrase from a song popped into my head, but when I asked Google, all it found was this quote:

From Not Quite Kosher: An Abe Lieberman Mystery
YouTube didn't have anything either. From the same era as The Old HUAC.

Is it 'Bright-Eyed and . . .

bushy tailed' like this squirrel, or
'beaver tailed', which means you've got your eyes open and 
a PI following him to see what he's up to?
Via Jack & Rick.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slow Down

ELMS (European LeMans Series) at Monza
The picture is from a video of some practice sessions being run at Monza. Since it's the LeMans series, the cars at least sort of look like cars, not like those insect looking things they run in Formula 1. The sound when they are running hard is pretty great, but when they let off the throttle you hear backfiring. It's probably not backfiring in the traditional sense, that is, when flames shoot backward through the intake manifold and through the carburetor. I suspect it is excess fuel being dumped in the exhaust and exploding there. Whatever it is, it's really obnoxious. It sounds like a construction site with people dropping boards and beams. It doesn't sound good, and that's why I didn't embed the video here. Click on the link under the picture if you want to watch it.

Anyway, the whole reason for including the picture is so you can see the glowing brakes. They are bright enough that you can even see them in daylight. I suspect the disks are carbon.

Via Road & Track.

Another red hot carbon brake.
Previous posts about brakes. I was surprised there were so many of them.


Some people, notably Graham Hancock, believe that there was a human civilization here on Earth long before our current epoch. Our current records go back 5,000 years or so and current prevailing theory is there wasn't any civilization to speak of before then. The lost civilization theory is that there was an advanced civilization here on Earth sometime before 10,000 years ago and that it was destroyed by some natural cataclysm. One theory is that the Northern hemisphere was covered by a much larger and thicker ice sheet than we have now, something more along the lines of the ice sheet that covers the South Pole, which is a couple of miles thick. An meteor, or a comet, struck this ice sheet and the energy released by this impact caused this ice sheet to melt, which released a large quantity of water which flowed into the oceans and raised the worldwide sea level by about 400 feet.

This biggest argument against there having been a previous civilization is the lack of written records. There's also the problem that most anything that they would have built was most likely along the coastline which is now 3 or 400 feet underwater.

This makes me think we should be constructing some kind of archive that could survive a similar calamity. Now we have server farms which contain much of our data, and as long as our civilization is viable these are probably fine. But what happens if there is a real disaster, one that kills a sizable fraction of our population, or possibly even a majority? Those server farms are dependent on a vast computer industry that is continually producing new digital data processing and storage equipment because that stuff doesn't last forever. In cold storage it might last for a while, but in operating I think the most you can expect is about ten years. Should disaster strike those server farms are going to start failing.

The only way you can be sure an archive remains intact is by checking it, and that basically means someone needs to be reading it. It's all very well for computers to read the data and run check-sums to see that everything is correct, but that doesn't tell you whether the people who are there can access it, read it and understand it. So maybe what we need is a paper archive along with a printing press and paper and ink production facilities. With this equipment a small group of people could maintain a sizable archive for hundreds of years. Printing presses wear out eventually, but that is mostly a function of how much printing they do.

Something like that would still require some kind of society to maintain it, and if things get really bad that might not be possible. So then you are going to want some kind of vault.The problem here is what kind of vault could you make that could survive 10,000 years? Volcanoes, floods, earthquakes or war could destroy any kind of physical device you could construct. You could make multiple copies and place them in diverse geographic locations.

Since we have conceived of this idea, it's reasonable to assume that the same idea would have occurred to any previous civilization. If it did, then where are these archives? Or perhaps they were struck down before they got around to building them.

Or maybe they did, but they have archived the data in a place that would never be destroyed as long as there was life on this planet: in our DNA.

Recently some brainiacs have managed to record some binary data in DNA and then retrieve it. It's only a lab curiosity now, but given the data storage industries quest for ever greater storage capacity, I don't expect it will be too long before you can buy a packet of seeds at Wal-Mart that will contain all of the Facebook posts ever posted.

So if we can come up with this idea, it's possible that a previous civilization might have also done it, and we are in fact carrying their archives around with us in our own DNA.

Problem now is, if it is actually there, how to decode it. We can store all kinds of data in binary form, but you have to know what that form is, and there is virtually no limit to the ways data can be encoded. If you don't have some kind of clue, trying to figure out what message is contained in a binary string might very well be hopeless.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Air Traffic

A day over the UK

What we have here is a time lapse video of air traffic over the British Isles. We have a great deal of traffic going into London and other major airports, but we also have short little flights that apparently go back and forth between non-existent locations. I suspect that most of these are to and from tiny islands, but I wonder if some of them might be to oil rigs. I mean there are a bunch of islands to the Northeast of Scotland, but I'm pretty sure there aren't any in the middle of the North Sea.

The video is from NATS:
NATS is the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services.
Air Traffic Control is performed by private companies in socialist Europe? Who'd a thunk it? I mean, here is the good ol' USA, land of free enterprise and home of capitalist exploitation,  Air Traffic Control is done by the gummint. Weird, man.

Via Flight Radar, who left a comment on one of my old posts.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vostochny Cosmodrome is in Business

Russia launches first rocket from new cosmodrome

The first launch happened almost a year ago. None of my news sources reported it. Of course, I've got my filters set on high to keep the crap out, but still, something like this should have got through. Shoot, I put up a post about the Vostochny Cosmodrome two years ago. You'd think someone would have told me. Useless news media.

On a related note, Russia is working on a new booster that will use methane, i.e. natural gas, as a fuel. Natural gas is not often used for vehicles of any type because of the need for a very high pressure tank, but since rockets commonly use cryogenic fluids, natural gas could make sense.

P.S. Looking for the post about using natural gas in cars, I was surprised to find that I have put up a couple of dozen posts relating to natural gas.

Update March 2023 replaced missing video. I don't know if it is an exact replacement, but the title is similar and the time frame is right.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How STOL can you go?

2016 STOL Highlights

If you want to get Far from the Madding Crowd, Alaska is the place to go. If you want to get around in Alaska, an airplane can come in mighty handy. Valdez, where this video was recorded, is about 100 miles east of Anchorage as the crow, or the Piper Cub flies, but 300 miles by car. And most of Alaska doesn't have any roads at all.

STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) is handy when there aren't any FAA approved airports handy. The STOL crowd holds a contest every year. Last year's winner got off the ground in 77 feet and managed to land in 27 feet, which is just five feet more than the length of the airplane.

Valdez, Alaska.
The airport is just visible to the right of the vertical line indicating the location of the town.
I suspect the big mountain on the horizon (to the left of Valdez) is Mt. Blackburn, about 100 miles away.
Via Posthip Scott.

P.S. Far from the Madding Crowd doesn't have anything to do with Alaska, it is set in rural England. I read it some time ago. It was kind of slow going at first, but I stuck with it and eventually I became totally engrossed. It must be a pretty great book as I still recall several scenes from the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Richie Rich

Bentley (the car people) have a new ad campaign for selling their over-the-top lux mobiles to people with more money than god, and it starts with this image of Dubai, which has the world's highest concentration of potential Bentley customers. Bentley knows what side their bread is buttered on, and it's the side covered with sand and oil.

The original image has a zillion pixels. You can see it, and pan and zoom, here. Funny thing is that there are almost no people visible. Oh, there are a few people walking around at ground level, but no crowds like you might you see in a real metropolis, that is, one with a climate that makes going outside something you could do without being fried to crisp.

All the windows in all the skyscrapers, at least the ones close enough to provide enough detail, also seem to be devoid of people. Does anybody actually live in all these exotic palaces? Maybe they do, but they are all hiding in air-conditioned inner chambers away from the sun's burning glare. Or maybe they have all flown away to someplace with tolerable temperatures.

But back to the Bentley. You can't have a car ad without the car and it's right there in the center, parked on the roundabout sticking out into the water.

The whole tone, or maybe texture, of this digital image kind of reminds of the video game The Sims. It's like it's not real, but maybe that was the effect they were shooting for.

Update: While I was talking about the color / brightness / hue in the images, another part of this 'Sims' effect could be the apparent isometric view of the car. Everything in The Sims, or at least in the versions my kids played, was depicted in an isometric view. Most pictures of cars are shot from much closer, so perspective frames the image. This one is not absolutely isometric, but when you are looking from far away, the effect of perspective is minimized and it looks like an isometric view.

Dubai is on the Persian Gulf, near the straight of Hormuz.

Via Road & Track

Previous Bentley posts.

High-Speed Ferry Francisco

The Fastest Ship World has ever Seen
“This is certainly the fastest ship in the world,” said Incat managing director Kim Clifford. “Of course there's a few speed boats that could surpass 58 knots, but nothing that could carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars, and with an enormous duty-free shop on board.”The Francisco is the world's first high-speed ferry that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) as primary fuel.
I did a little checking, and for its size it may very well be the fastest ship ever. The US Navy built some hydrofoils but they only got up to around 45 knots.

This vessel provides ferry service between Buenas Aires, Argentina and several places along the coast of Uruguay, including Montevideo.

Via Posthip Scott.

Update March 2019 replaced missing video.
Update January 2022 replaced missing video.

Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

RIAS, Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor in German or Radio in the American Sector
Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon is an espionage thriller set in post-WW2 Berlin. Our hero's father got him out of Germany prior to the war. Alex, for that is our hero's name, went to California, wrote a best seller and was living the good life until the HUAC started asking him questions that he refused to answer. No longer welcome in the USA he goes back to his home town in Germany: Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate
It's 1949, the Soviets and the Allies are pushing and shoving, working their way up to the cold war. Somebody in the American intelligence community realizes that Alex could be a valuable asset, never mind that he won't answer the bull-necked Senator's questions, so Alex has friends in the American sector. Because he has communist leanings, he has friends in the Soviet sector as well, and because this is his home town, there are people he knows from back in the day. Whether they are still friends might be in doubt, war changes people.

Adlon Hotel in Berlin, survived the war but burned in 1945
He quickly learns that the Soviet brand of communism is 100% bullshit, which puts him in a bit of bind. The action escalates so quickly it begins to look like a James Bond movie, but more complicated, and with real characters.

Douglas C-54 Skymaster cargo airplanes at Templehof airport.
The Berlin airlift is going on and while it doesn't play a big part in the story, it's quite a story all by itself. I remember hearing about it when I was a kid, but I never realized just how big a deal it was. So they had to fly in some supplies from the West, I mean how many plane loads did they need? There couldn't have been more than a few hundred people living there, I mean most of them got killed in the war, right? Well, no.

Schematic Diagram of Air Lift Routes
There were almost three million people living in Berlin at the time. At one pound of food and two pounds of coal (winter in Berlin is cold) per person, that's like 5,000 tons of material a day. This is when cargo planes were hard pressed to carry five tons, which meant that there were a thousand flights a day, every day for ten months. That's a serious expenditure of effort. It paid off though, because eventually the Soviets relented and the Allies managed to keep hold of half of Berlin.

Using a Geiger Counter on samples in a Wismut mine, c. 1960.
Another situation that bears on the story: the Soviets were mad to build their own atomic bomb and to do that they needed uranium. The only source they knew of at the time were some mines along the Czechoslovakian - German border. They went at it in a typical Stalinesque manner, using forced labor from POW's and criminals and when that wasn't enough they started conscripting regular people. While the conditions were not as bad as the German slave labor operations, they weren't good. Thousands of people died.

WISMUT mine in Thüringen, Germany. The hills are waste material that has been removed from the mine. The two white metal structures are the head ends of the elevators that go down into the mine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany was left with a environmental disaster that they are still working to clean up.


Angela wears a 'deux piece' from Paris. Daring, for 1956. 

We saw this on Netflix about a week ago.

Tetuan, Morocco, 1956. Santiago, a young Spanish lawyer, goes to Tetuan to take care of some legal business.  Just so you know where we are, the movie opens with a conversation that includes this comment from a fellow Spaniard, presumably a lawyer and Catholic:
I do not wish to deal with quarrels between the Moors.
They're twisted people, believe me.
During the course of his investigations, Santiago uncovers some secrets about his past dating back to the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In case you don't remember, Franco and the Nationalists had the backing of the Nazis and the Catholic Church. The Republicans had the backing of the Soviet Union and Ernest Hemingway, who wrote a best seller about his experience there. Another comment about this time:
They were masons. Rats
I've encountered anti-mason rhetoric before, but it seems pretty thin, kind of along the lines of how there is a great conspiracy among the Jews or the Illuminati or the Bilderberg group to run the world for their own nefarious purposes.

Another quote about the Civil War:
- Do you know who won the war?
- Sure.
- Priests won the war, and teachers lost it.
This war has been going on for at least a thousand years, as long as some people have been trying to apply logic and reason to figure out how the world works. On the other side we have those who want things to continue as they have been,  because those methods are tried and proven and, above all, safe. Safe is a relative term however. Society runs, and survives, on traditional rules. Traditional rules may result in an individual's death, but the group will survive. Deviation from the known and accepted may bring calamity down on our heads, and you certainly don't want that, do you, peasant, who cannot think for yourself? 

On the other hand sometimes those new ideas do bring calamity down on our heads. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

After Morocco became independent, Spain held onto a couple of enclaves, one of which has the last remaining public statue of Franco in Spain, even though it's in Africa.

I am not sure, but I think the title comes from a Jewish prayer, which kind of ties into the whole Jewish / Masonic Lodge conspiracy thing.

P.S. Looking for a trailer for this movie yesterday, I could not find one on YouTube with English subtitles. I found the one above when I first started this post shortly after we watched the movie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

America's First Satellites

Secret Satellite -- Засекреченный спутник [СУБТИТРЫ]

Sputnik caught us flat-footed, but we jumped in with both feet and embarked on a plan to put our own satellites in orbit. While the Russians were mostly doing it for propaganda purposes, putting dogs and monkeys into orbit, we were trying to do something useful by putting cameras into orbit.

This video is almost an hour long, but it's pretty great, if you have any interest is this sort of thing.

The Russians had their own spy satellites starting in 1961.
The first American Corona satellite went up in 1959.
Previous post on the subject.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rocket to the Moon

Promotional Poster for Woman in the Moon, a silent movie directed by Fritz Lang, 1929
I'm reading Leaving Berlin by Jospeh Kanon, a great story about espionage in post WW2 Berlin. Lots of bits and pieces get drug into the story, which prompts me to go looking around and this is one place I wandered into.

Fathers of modern rocketry:
Just because a person is an expert or is talented in one particular field does not mean you should accept their opinion in other areas. The New York Times poo-poo-ed Goddard's ideas about space flight. The Germans embraced Oberth's ideas. As a result, by the time WW2 rolled around, we had JATO rockets (little, disposable rockets used to give airplanes a boost on takeoff) and the Germans had V-2's. Just because some rich guy runs a big newspaper does not automatically make him a rocket science expert.

On the other hand, Germany was using slave labor to produce their rockets. Slavery in and of itself is not so bad, the West is full of wage slaves, but the German treatment of their slave work force was particularly horrendous. The workers were systematically starved to death. Ten to twenty thousand people died in the V-2 factories. Just because some guy is a rocket science expert does not automatically make him a good person.

The American defense department pretty much ignored Goddard during the interwar period. Since they failed to develop their own rocket scientists, when the war ended they were desperate to absorb German ones, never mind that they were probably war criminals. Just because some guys are in charge of big government operations does not automatically make them experts on any subject outside of administering big government projects, like perhaps, maybe, rocket science. Stupid shitz.

On the other hand, while Goddard was a rocket science expert, he may not have been very media savvy, or maybe he just didn't have the right connections, or maybe he pissed somebody off. Hard to tell. The rich and powerful are a clan unto themselves. You want to play in the big leagues, you need to have some heavy hitters on your side. Nowadays you might be able to accomplish something with the internet, but that still requires at least a smattering of media smarts.

Hermann Oberth designed the rocket for Fritz Lang's movie. I found some photos that I liked. I was hoping I could just refer you to a website that had a bunch, but I couldn't find one. All the sites I looked at only had a couple of good shots, so here we go. The movie is on YouTube, the subtitles are in German.

Our leading lady with a plot of their planned trajectory.

A meeting with a model of the rocket.

Close up of the model.

Rocket nearing completion in the assembly building.

Rocket leaving the assembly building for the launch pad.
Now we leave the realm of rocket science and venture into fantasy land.

Interior of the space ship. Model for I don't know how many science fiction stories.

On the moon. At least they landed their rocket standing up, not horizontally like an airplane. 

Our lady on the moon. The far side of the moon has a breathable atmosphere, don't you know. 

It's a movie, they are not really on the moon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Small Business Opportunity

Cadillac Hood Ornament
Buy an old car, preferably a big old American land cruiser. You don't want to pay too much because there might be nothing left when we get done. It doesn't have to run or drive well, though it would help if you could drive it to our venue (what a stupid word. I don't think this word was part of our common vocabulary until maybe 10 or 20 years ago. What did we used to use? Theater, maybe? Stadium? Something a little more specific than venue). It would also help if the body was in decent shape. In other words, it needs to look good, but that's about all.

Now you go to your local ceramic shop and commission a hood ornament size statue of Donald (and / or Hillary, depending on your mood) and you order up a hundred or so plaster replicas. A little paint might make them more attractive. They need a hole in the base so they can be dropped down over a peg, a peg that you will stick in the hood of your car, right where the hood ornament goes.

When these preparations are complete, you drive downtown, somewhere where there a lot of people. Pick up a baseball bat along the way. Pull one of your statuettes out of the back seat and drop him on the post on the hood. Put up a sign: $10 to take a crack at the Donald and wait for your customers to queue up. I think you could probably make a fortune, possibly even enough to pay for the car, which might very well get destroyed by overenthusiastic customers.

Plaster-of-Paris might not be the best material. Whatever they use to make exploding golf balls might be better.

Twisting DNA

Why Women Are Stripey

They (women) aren't actually stripey, at least they don't look that way because we don't have chromosome vision.  I liked the animation, and the bit about the cellualar level fight between the two X-chromosomes was interesting. Makes me wonder if the same thing is going with all the other normally paired chromosomes.

The part that isn't explained here, and which I haven't seen anywhere, is how DNA gets untwisted enough that it can be read. Because DNA isn't just twisted like a rope, it's curled up, and then recurled, and then curled some more, as this video shows.

✔ DNA Replication Animation - Super EASY

(, shown on the bottom of the video doesn't exist, though there is a YouTube channel with that name.)

It might be that the DNA does get completely untwisted when only a short segment needs to get copied. In that case perhaps only a short segment gets untwisted, kind of like when you are trying to splice a rope or cable.

Fastest loadsling splicer...1 1/8" X 28' .in 3min 20sec (greasy rope).DCR (

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Fiat 126P
Syafolee got a postcard from Poland with a picture of a car on it (above). The card is from Centrum Promocji Motoryzacji, a Polish outfit that deals with cars. They have a website. They have several makes and models listed, including the infamous Trabant and something called the Syrena, that looks kind of cool. The Syrena they have pictured is a prototype sports model from 1960. It never made it to production, but there is also a more utilitarian model that was the standard Polish car for decades. Two stroke engines, two or three cylinders, much like an old Saab. Looking on YouTube I found this clip:

Funter , Arrinera Hussarya , Syrena , Syrenka , Car Project's from Poland

Looks like car culture is flourishing in Poland. The tune is Heart Afire by Defqwop featuring Strix.

Roy-Al with Cheese


Just something that came across my ear holes this AM. Pulp Fiction will never die.

52 years (and 3 days) ago

Время первых — Трейлер #2 (2017)

50 years ago a Russian made the first space walk. They had a couple of problems. It's a miracle they survived. I mean 10 G's of force? Motherboard has the story. Now they have made a movie about it (trailer above). It will be released next month. Via Posthip Scott.

Voskhod 2 commemorative stamp. Image: Russian Federation

Voskhod 2 with inflatable airlock

Interior view of the Voskhod descent module.  Note the simple control panel and Vzor porthole to the left. (Novosti Press Agency). I suspect all the orange stuff is spray on foam insulation.

Belyayev and Leonov shown inside the cramped Voskhod descent module cabin.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Stringless Yo-Yo!

Stringless Yo-Yo!

Yo-yo's are nothing new, but yo-yo's that are designed to detach from the string, that's something new. New to me anyway.

Uniberp's Latest Project

Big Bag O' Skunks
Uniberp reports on his latest project:
I'm rehabbing a tattered 19th century cottage a block from Muskegon Lake, in a decent neighborhood of modest homes. I bought it for about $30 a foot, plus an oversized 28x30 garage on a double lot. I am 3 weeks into demolition. Triage demolition is a couple weeks to completion. It will require total replacement of the rear sill, which a 10x10 beam, notched for joists. I'll figure out how that will go together when I see it. Prep is supporting the back wall top plate, supporting the joists, then removing the wall pretty much entirely.The garage, although with a good slab and heavy fiberglass door, has severe roof rot, although the trusses are intact. I replaced 10 sections of decking( need 15 more), and will put a $1200 steel roof on it. Colonial Red, I think. 
I bought it because I am bored and bitter on weekends. Now, instead, it is all so familiar, as I drag myself to my old truck full of tools and drive a half hour to the job site. Once there it is fairly automatic. If I am strong and fresh I tackle an improvement. If not, I shovel and sweep mindlessly. I last about 6-7 hours, then confusion and tiredness forces a stop. 
The dump is 13 miles away and $25. I have 10 steel barrels on a 10x5 trailer that I fill and 2-wheel up the ramp. I fill them as best I can on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, and make it to the dump by 1 pm the following Saturday. Monday morning I go into work feeling stiff, but already knowing I did my own work for the week.  
It has real potential, as a flip, or a cottage, or for retirement. Space for a big garden, although very sandy. 2 block walk to the marinas, parks, bars and restaurants, but as yet I am too filthy to go anywhere but straight home to the shower.  
I should have the thing together with basic plumbing in a few weeks. I ripped it all out, since it was what rotted the back sill and floors. I have an electrician installing a new service and panel this week.  
Once that is in place, it will be functional, and design can begin. I have lots of extra time during the week to plan the engineering and layout. and that helps, because I am so sore I can only move slowly. It takes me a couple of days to recover fully, even though I use all the safety equipment: gloves, goggles, real respirator, hardhat, Still some gets through and gagging on dust is exhausting. 
I don't even want to talk about the skunk abatement, suffice to say that I believe I took out the entire regional population.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Idiot Plot

On a recommendation, we tried watching The OA last night, but it didn't take me long to call 'crap' and pull the plug. Coincidentally, Iaman sent me a link to Wikipedia's Idiot Plot article:
In literary criticism, an idiot plot is "a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot" and where the story would otherwise be over if this were not the case. It is a narrative where its conflict comes from characters not recognizing, or not being told, key information that would resolve the conflict, often because of plot contrivance. The only thing that prevents the conflict's resolution is the character's constant avoidance or obliviousness of it throughout the plot, even if it was already obvious to the viewer, so the characters are all "idiots" in that they are too obtuse to simply resolve the conflict immediately.
 We didn't get far enough into the story to find out whether the cast were all idiots or not, but there was certainly some bad crazy, and I ain't got time for that.

ORNETTE - TAKE YOUR TIME - 360° Music Video - with LYRICS

ORNETTE - TAKE YOUR TIME - 360° Music Video - with LYRICS

I dunno about the tune, pleasant enough I suppose. Maybe it will grow on me, but the video, that's something else. When you start the video, a gray circle will appear in the upper left corner. Click on it to pan around the room while they are playing. Shouldn't be surprised, but I am. We've had video for long time, and we've had whole world viewing for a while now, so it was inevitable that someone would combine the two. I'm just surprised that it would show up in my inbox.

I thought I had posted Ornette before, but I couldn't find anything. I may have gotten her confused with Cat Power.

Update 2 weeks later: I did post something by Ornette before. I don't know why I couldn't find it earlier.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chinese Steam

Chinese steam - SY 0770 struggles on slippery rails

I first saw this video a year ago and left this comment on the YouTube page:
Surprising video. The opening scene looks like someone's model railroad. The juddering noise that the train makes when the wheels slip was unexpected. Did you notice the way the second trike tilted when it ran over a rock just before parking? The driver gets out, walks around the back, picks up the rock and puts in front of the left rear wheel. I always thought the chuffing of the steam engine was from steam expended from the cylinders, but watching the wheels slowly turning while the engine chuffs away tells me that is not the case.
Today I got a reply from Varinki that explains the chuffing noise:
 The fast continuous chuffing is the exhaust from the air brake pump.
An air compressor! It's obvious when you think about it. Trains use air brakes, which means you need an air compressor, and since you are running a steam engine what else would you use to power it besides steam?

8 1/2" Cross Compound Compressor.  The steam cylinders are at the top and the air compressor cylinders are on the bottom.  The high pressure steam and low pressure air cylinders are on the right.
These air compressors are quite a hunk of machinery in their own right, but compared to the locomotive they are minuscule, which is why they are often overlooked. I think you can see the one in the video after the 5 minute mark. At 5:45 is just above the motorcyclist's helmet.

The man who made this video, Wolfgang Cloessner, was a bit of a player in the steam engine world. He died two years ago.

Come to think of it, if your train needs any electrical power you are going to have a steam powered electrical generator as well.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Curse You, Spring

I've been feeling pretty listless this week. I put up one big post on Sunday and some small ones on Monday, and then a couple of easy ones, and that was basically it. I just haven't been feeling it, to use the vernacular.

Being March, it's been raining, a lot. Last Sunday though we had a few hours of actual nice weather, so nice that I actually went outside and puttered in the yard a bit.

Since Mr. Broken Ankle is on the mend, my stress level has gone down enough that I have enough energy to resume my stair climbing program (20 minutes a day, up two flights of stairs and then down with about ten to fifteen feet of level walking in between each flight). Don't quite understand the connection here. Was it really the stress that put a stop to my exercise program, or was it some other issue, like a low grade virus?

Anyhoo, two of those days I used the outside stairs as part of my route. 50 degrees F is not balmy, but it's warm enough if you are working, and climbing stairs falls under the category of work for me.

Costco's version of Zyrtec
The comeuppance was that I didn't fall asleep until six AM this morning. Not sleeping, and being low on mental energy led to pondering, and that led to me thinking that maybe all this outdoor activity this week has stirred up my allergies and that's what's giving me so much grief. So I took a Zyrtec and I've been sleeping off and on all day long.

My experience with hayfever started in the sixth grade when we moved to Ohio and I went out into a nearby field filled with Timothy grass and my eyes swole up. I vaguely remember it was kind of annoying, but I solidly remember my mother being very upset about it.

I started fighting back with pills of various sorts. Could Chlor-trimeton be one of them? (Yes, it could.) Fifteen years later, when I lived in Austin, I started getting allergy shots. Near as I can tell there are two basic types of these things. One is cortisone and lasts for months, and the other is some kind of jungle joy juice that is made up from all the stuff you are allergic too. How do they figure out what you are allergic to? The infamous skin scratch test.

Lil Abner Kickapoo Joy Juice
They put a few drops of a selection of jungle joy juice on your arm, maybe as few as six, maybe as many as three dozen, prick the skin under each drop and they sit back and wait for you to squirm. It's kind of a curious process (sitting months and miles away from having had it done). Most of the drops sit there without causing any more reaction that a drop of water, but some will start itching so bad that I will want to start gnawing my arm off,

I continued with the allergy shots up until a year or two ago. They were kind of a nuisance, having to drive to Beaverton, hang around for a bit, and deal with the bills when they came. But I also used to get sinus infections, usually one big one in December. Some of them were real doozies. One got so bad that the side of my skull swole up enough that it was pushing on me eyeball and giving me double vision. It was so bad I went to the eye doctor and a got special lenses to compensate. I still don't really understand what happened. Weird, man. Eventually it went away and I am back to my normal (ha!) self and only need my $5 reading glasses for reading. The upshot was that if I stayed on track and got my allergy shots every couple of weeks like I was supposed to, I didn't get these sinus infections. So I got the shots.

The Hulk
Nowadays we have Claritin and Zyrtec, drugs that didn't exist 50 years ago*, or at least they weren't approved for mass consumption, and I'm retired, so I can sleep whenever I want, or at least whenever my family will let me. Sleep is probably the biggest weapon I have in my arsenal to fight sinus infections. And besides, if I am short of sleep my personality undergoes a dramatic shift. I become like David Banner (the Hulk) when he gets angry. So I try to get enough sleep.

The bad part of all this is that I haven't really had any of what you might call normal hay fever symptoms this week. I've just been a little low on mental energy. In the absence of any overt symptoms, could it really be hay fever? Does it matter if I don't have any symptoms, but taking Zyrtec lets me sleep? We shall see, providing of course that I remember to take my drugs. Remembering to take care of things can be difficult when you are short on sleep.

P.S. I used to take Benadryl. Took it for years, mostly to sleep. Probably not a good idea to take it day-in, day-out year after year, which is what I was doing. Prednisone was the drug I used to clear up my sinus infections. If I was a mess, taking it had no noticeable effect other than I got better. If I wasn't that sick, taking it would jack me up (overly energize me). Not a very pleasant feeling. Claritin doesn't do anything for me, at least not that I've noticed. Perhaps a more careful trial is in order. I also used to take Sudafed a lot, but Sudafed is a decongestant, which dehydrates you, and drinking dehydrates you, which leads to imbalance in electrolytes, which led to muscle spasms. Great fun.

* Claritin came on the market in 1993, Zyrtec in 1995.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Making the World Safe for Democracy

My niece at Fort Benning Georgia

Catastrophe Imminent?

Vader 404
Got an email this morning from Google (message number (WNC-655201) telling me that a bunch of URL's aren't working. However, all these URL's go to my blog, which is hosted on Blogger, which belongs to Google.So why are you telling me, Google? Get your own house in order!

I tried the FETCH tool, and it failed to find the referenced page. However (2), I was able to pull up the page directly.

I would write this all off as a glitch, except that yesterday afternoon nothing was working for about five minutes.

Has the internet routing mechanism grown so big and complex that it is falling apart? Are the Russians (or maybe the Chinese) deliberately making trouble? Or has Skynet become self aware? Inquiring minds want to know!

P.S. This forum wants me to select a category for this post, but since I am outside the circle of wagons, I have no clue as to what category this should fall under (Security, malware & hacked sites? Where's Incompetence?), I so put it under Chit-chat.

P.P.S. Five minutes later and already one response, which points here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Let's Go To War

$200 War Savings Bond Series E
WW2 was hugely expensive. It was financed by the sale of some umpteen zillion dollars of War Bonds. The U.S. Government financed one of the biggest advertising campaigns in history in order to sell these bonds. When you add up the totals, it looks like every man, woman and child bought $2,000 worth of War Bonds over the course of the war (four years). This was back when the average wage was $2,000 per year.

There are all kinds of stories about little old ladies and kids saving up their pennies to buy War Bonds, but I don't think it was great mass of people who financed the war. I think it was probably the richest 1% who bought the bulk of the bonds. If you added up all the bonds that working people bought it probably wouldn't have amounted to a hill of beans.

Now if this is true, and I don't have a shred of evidence to support my position, why would you need this huge advertising campaign? I mean the advertising campaign is going to hit everyone, but it's mostly going to be targeted at the working stiffs. They could buy all the bonds they want, but it's not going to finance WW2 like the government wanted.

I suspect the whole point of this huge advertising campaign was to get everyone to agree that supporting the war effort was a good and necessary thing. And from everyday social interactions, this commitment and agreement eventually percolated up through all the social classes, and the 1%-ers eventually came to see that it was a good thing and forked over the zillions of dollars the government needed.