Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Monday, July 31, 2017


My custom refrigerator dust getter. Made by taping a short piece of aquarium tubing to the end of a standard vacuum cleaner crevice tool. I used electrical tape to connect the two.
Our 25 year old refrigerator has given up the ghost. It's been leaking water, off and on, little drips and drabs for a month now. And a couple of weeks ago the freezer quit freezing. Yesterday I finally got a round toit and cleaned out the dust from the evaporator coils on the under side of the fridge. It was bad, I hadn't bothered to give it a thorough cleaning since we bought it. How can you tell anyway? Everything is painted black, and it's dark underneath there. I spent a couple of hours vacuuming, blowing dust with the air compressor, mopping up the mess the compressed air made and then doing it all over again. I even made a special tool to get through the outer grill of wires and tubes. I got a heck of a lot of dust out of there, and spread dust all over the downstairs. Put it back together, plugged it in and let it run for 12 hours. I felt for sure that getting the dust out would cure it, but such was not the case.

Our new fridge, a Frigidaire Gallery 22.6 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter-Depth Refrigerator DGHF2360PF
It used to be that in a such a case I would redouble my efforts until I had completely disassembled the fridge and rebuilt it to my exacting standards. Only then, when it still failed to freeze would I have  considered throwing in the towel. Maybe I have gained a little wisdom is my old age, or maybe I have just learned to listen to my wife, or maybe that is the same thing.

So we went to Hutchins TV & Appliance this afternoon and bought a new one. I find appliance stores are good for us because they have salesmen on hand who are willing to talk about their products. I don't care much for such conversations, I prefer a spreadsheet with the facts, but my wife is more verbal and she likes to talk about these things, and salesmen are perfectly happy to do that. Besides her concerns are different than mine. For example, at first she wanted black stainless steel, but defiant daughter talked her out that, for which I am glad. I suspect this 'black stainless' is fad that will last a couple of years until some really ugly examples start showing up. Might not be anything wrong with the finish, but it is new, and special, not 'standard', and therefor suspect.

Interesting thing about stainless refrigerators: stainless steel is not magnetic, so your cute little refrigerator magnets will not stick to the refrigerator door as they have been doing since time immemorial. Horrors! This cannot be! Well it is, and it isn't. Different manufacturers have taken different approaches to the problem. Frigidaire has backed their stainless steel skins with a sheet of regular steel, so the magnets still stick. Whirlpool (or is it GE?) concocted a special blend of stainless steel that is magnetic, so the magnets still stick. GE (or is it Whirlpool?) said phooey on this whole magnet business, we are the future after all, and integrated a touch screen into the door.

Poking around for an explanation, I found this:
Austenitic stainless steels (such as a typical 300 series) are non-magnetic, whereas martensitic stainless steels (such as a typical 400 series) are magnetic. - Brian Barnhart
Rumor has it that when consumer appliances with stainless steel skins first started to appear, they were prone to smudging, but now we have smudge resistant finishes. I wonder just what the heck they are doing to make them smudge resistant, and how thick is the stainless steel skin on Frigidaire refrigerator? I suspect it may be only a few thousandths of an inch thick, kind of like aluminum foil.

There is also a problem with ice dispensers in these 'portal' refrigerators. The top portion of the refrigerator is refrigerated, not frozen, but the ice dispenser is up there as well. How do you deal with this? You install a minature freezer inside the fridge. Some companies put them in the door, which limits their ice capacity. In our fridge, the ice maker and ice storage are in a box hanging from the inside top.

Intent, Intonation & Intelligence

Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) as Tyrion Lannister
We were watching Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) in The Game of Thrones last night. He is one of my favorite characters mostly because he seems to be pretty sharp. Is he really sharp, or is his part just written that way? And if Peter is really a dullard, would we still believe that he is a smart person because he sounds like he is smart?

I got to thinking about this this afternoon and it occurred to me that intonation produced by a person speaking might be an indicator for intelligence. Or perhaps it just indicates that the portion of your brain where you emotions influence your intonation is especially well developed.

I imagine an actor trying out for this role and he is rejected. When he asks why, judge and jury plays a tape of another actor they are considering for this role. Then they play a tape of the session they just concluded. The judge asks our candidate if he hears the difference and his reply is "no". And the judge tells him that is why he was rejected, i.e. because he does not hear the difference in intonation. He does not hear it because he is not that smart.

I am not saying there is a connection between intonation / infection and intelligence, just that there might be one. It might not be there except in our minds, our subconscious collecting information about everyone we meet, information like the way they talk and therefor how smart they are. But we've got zillions of years of spoken communication under our belts. There is a heck of lot of information that gets communicated in a face to face meeting. A great deal of who we are is determined by our cultural conditioning, things of such a subtle level that we are not even aware of their existence. Until we go visit another culture and find out stuff you find ordinary other people find hilarious and thing you find hilarious they find insulting. So there might be a connection and we are probably using it, totally subconsciously.

Presidential Whiskey

Glendronach - Signed by USA President Donald Trump - 1985 26 year old
I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I was. Via Bayou Renaissance Man.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Redding, California, Part 2

I took two days to drive to San Francisco to pick up younger son. It only took us one day to get back. Somebody was in a hurry to get out of California.

Lim's Cafe, Redding, California
It was really hot. It got up to 105 degrees in Redding Friday.

I got up at 6AM, showered, packed and was at Jonbert's by 7. We had reconnoitered the route the night before, after dinner. I've been to San Francisco before and I had Google Maps on my laptop, so with a some diligent studying I was able to find my way there. It did seem kind of far, but I live by the freeway, both literally and figuratively, so my travels usually consist of a short jaunt to the freeway, a period of zen autopilot on the freeway and then a short jaunt to my destination. Not this time. No freeway, it was all cross town traffic and it went on for dozens of blocks, dozens I tell you. I haven't driven that far in a downtown area since, umm, I suppose it was the last time I was there.

Front Door of 300 Hyde Street, San Francisco, California
I find a legal parking place a couple of spaces down from John's front door. We're a little paranoid about this, though I am not sure why. What can happen if I don't pay a San Francisco parking fine? Can the long arm of their law reach across state lines for such an infraction? In any case it's not a bad spot as far as distance to the front door, but there is a smear of shit on the sidewalk just there. We shortly get tired of walking the extra dozen paces and avoiding the shit stain so I pull the truck down to the corner and park in a red zone. I saw at least one police car come by, but they didn't seem to be the least interested in my flagrant infraction.

The apartment looked to be somewhat more organized than it was the night before, so maybe this is not going to be a disaster. We started loading stuff into the truck. The apartment was on the third floor. I made maybe a dozen trips up the stairs which was more than enough. Jonbert probably made 50. I was occupied with packing his stuff into the truck, which is just as well. He has got an infinite well of energy. Me, I am already tired just thinking about it. We got most of the stuff in the truck. We left a couch/futon on the sidewalk. I expect that some bum will have a cushy place to sleep for at least one night.

Fancy Building across the street.
I was impressed that someone would bother to high light the details on a building in this neighborhood. I do not understand anything about this area.
The sidewalk in front of the apartment is a hot spot for the homeless, and a person standing there is a target for their wheedling. Some of them are just begging, some are incomprehensible, and a few claimed to want a job. I'm working, this is an economy venture, so no, I am not hiring any help, not that I saw anyone who I thought I might be capable of carrying anything bigger than small bag of crackers. Didn't see anyone I would trust with anything more valuable either.

IKEA Mattress Foundation
We ran into a hitch when we discovered that the IKEA hex wrench that we needed to disassemble the bed frame had already been packed and loaded into the truck. Spend time on a fruitless search of stuff we hoped we were done with? No thank you. Stopped in the two bodegas on the corner. They had an impressive variety of stuff, but no Allen wrenches. I grab my bundle of tools (Vise Grips, adjustable wrench, 4-way screwdriver and pair of slip-joint pliers) and head back upstairs. The bed frame is wood. It has a fabric cover which comes off easily. Since the wood is covered when the bed is assembled, any damage I inflict on the wood frame will not be noticed. So I set to using my Swiss Army knife as a chisel and the Vise Grips as a hammer. I gouged out a space around of the heads of the countersunk lag bolts and then used the Vise Grips to grab the head of the screw and unscrew it.

We were loaded and on the road by 10:30. Stopped in Marin County to check my knots and the ropes and found that the chairs and table I had lashed to the top were doing their best to escape. The back of one chair had broken loose, but it had gotten stuck before it fell off. I redid the knots here. Just going around a piece once will keep it attached but not in place. The wind is relentless. The table and chairs had been pushed back a couple of feet in the few miles we had traveled so far. But the retied knots held all the way home.

Routes into San Francisco from the North
Traffic was heavy all the way to Mt. Shasta. Mostly it was flowing along. The section between San Rafael and Vallejo was kind of tedious with several patches of stop and creep. It was still better than going through Berkeley and going over the Bay Bridge. We went that way last time I was here and it was wretched. I don't know if my new route was any faster, but it didn't seem as bad, perhaps because there were only two lanes of cars creeping along, not a dozen like you get in the approach to the Bay Bridge.

Interstate Freeway at Emeryville
John was playing music with his smart phone. He is getting music beamed to his phone from Spotify via the cell phone network. This worked until we got in the Siskiyou Mountains on the Oregon border. My old truck has a cassette player and I have thing-a-ma-jig that looks like a cassette, but it has a wire dangling from it. Plug the wire into the phone and the fake cassette thing into the radio and we have tunes filling the air from my brand new, recently installed speakers. Did I know I was really going to need new speakers? I dunno, but it was a fortuitous decision I made.

Siskiyou Moutains
We got stopped for speeding somewhere north of Mt. Shasta. Mr. Highway Patrolman said we were going 84 in 65 zone. The speed limit for most of the route so far , which was in the flats, was 70 MPH. It was only when we got into the hills that it dropped to 65, and we had only been in the hills for short while, no more than an hour or two. The officer asks for our papers (you know, the regular car stuff). I didn't find an insurance card, but the officer asks me what company I am with, and that seemed to be good enough. Does this mean that they have a computer that keeps track of that stuff? And a copper can access that information from his car? Or was he using his own good judgement to let us slide? (Yes, of course it was good judgment. I am a good citizen after all, never mind what all those dirty commies are saying.) The best part was that he didn't give Jonbert a ticket, just a warning. I think it had some effect. I don't think he broke 75 MPH the rest of the way home.

Mt. Shasta, shot from the truck.
Somewhere about the same time the air conditioner started threatening to explode and, if not kill everyone in the immediate vicinity, at least render the truck immobile. I am not sure whether something inside the compressor broke, or whether the bearing in the compressor clutch failed. When the A/C quit on Thursday I had turned it off and I hadn't heard anything more from it. But now when I start the truck I hear this gawd awful cauter wailing from the under the hood. It sounds like something is really about to break. Well, if it breaks we'll be in a bit of a jam, but it ain't broke yet and it might not, so we push our luck and drive on. Besides we've been on the road for eight hours and we are road zombies. All we can do at this point is drive. It turns out all right. After a minute or so the screeching goes away. Or maybe we just can't hear it over the rock and roll which is turned up high so we can hear it over the wind buffeting we get from driving 80 MPH with the windows wide open. This happens most every time we stop, but we're in Oregon now so we don't have too many more stops to make.

When we got home we left the truck running while I made space in the garage for the truck. It was about quarter to 11 by now and we really don't want to unload the truck right now. I also want the truck in the garage in case the next time I need to start it the A/C really does explode.

Jonbert drove most of the way. He had been out whooping it up with his friends the night before and then had spent most of the night packing and cleaning. Claims he got a couple of hours of sleep. Now he moves his furniture downstairs and then he drives to Portland. (Okay, I drove for two or three hours somewhere in the middle.) I don't think I ever had that much energy, but maybe I just don't remember.

P.S. The apartment was about 300 square feet which tiny and the rent was $1600. While the place was mostly roach-free, the roaches on the sidewalk definite gave the place an unpleasant cachet.

Barrel Roll Redux


I am a little underwhelmed by this stunt. It first made the world stage when it was done with an AMC Hornet for the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, and they made a complete barrel roll, not this most-of-the-way-and-land-kind-of-sideways like they did here.

Mercedes and Top Gear also did barrel rolls, but they did it in tunnels, not free flying through the air.

As for the Jag, I can't say as I am impressed. It's looks like they are following the industry wide trend of making cars more like appliances: boxy, utilitarian and ugly. I suppose that comes from the pressure of life in our modern world.

Via Road & Track.

DEF CON, Part 2

I think this must be a promotional poster for a DEF CON workshop. Detroit Steve is there in Las Vegas this weekend. The book Start-Up Nation is available from Amazon. Previous DEF CON post.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Drone Wars

Iaman is poking around on Quora, and comes across this question:

What do soldiers do when they are pinned by a sniper who is out of their firing range?

Which prompted this answer from David Hambling:
SwitchBlade (aka ‘the flying shotgun’) is made for exactly this situation. It's a five-pound lethal portable drone that can be launched from its tube from behind cover, and can fly for 15 minutes (range of several miles), send back visual and IR imagery to locate a target — then destroy it with a hand-grenade sized warhead in a kamikaze attack. Over 4000 have been used by US special forces in Afghanistan. The LMAMS program will roll them out to more US forces from 2018.
Details here - Visit Aerovironment Inc.

AeroVironment’s new tube-launched, man-portable Switchblade UAV. AeroVironment photo

Several other nations have their own versions of the lethal portable drone. The Chinese CL-901, which is somewhat larger, was announced last year and is available on the export market, as is the Polish Warmate. This Israelis are leaders in the field of drones, and produce a number of models, the most notable of which is the ROTEM-L, a quadcopter carrying an explosive warhead, which is useful in urban canyons and other tight spaces which might be difficult for a fixed-wing craft like the Switchblade. This is apparently already in service with some Israeli Special Forces units.

Israel Aerospace Industries’ “Rotem”
Expect to see a lot more like this over the next couple of years. They can even be deployed by non-state actors; ISIS have made their own mini-kamikaze fleet from modified commercial drones. They are great anti-sniper weapons, but this also suggests the way the future is going: the sniper will not be shooting at you with a rifle, but will be several miles away, behind cover, launching a series of lethal drones of his own.

And that’s when we start getting into swarm battles between attacking and defending drones….

Update February 2019 replaced missing images.


Detroit Steve is in Las Vegas for DEF CON this weekend. When I visit the site, I find that the opening story on DEF CON is about how a voting machine had been hacked with hours of opening. So I started looking up voting machines. I got this far:

Sequoia Voting Systems
Dominion Voting
DEF CON - Wikipedia entry.

but then I got tired. Younger son and I drove back from San Francisco yesterday. With packing up his stuff, loading the truck and a 12 hour drive, we had a full day and I am tired. Fortunately he drove most of the way, otherwise we would still be somewhere in California, suffering. The A/C on my truck broke on the way down. It was 105 in central California all along I-5. It was strenuous, to say the least.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Redding, California

Lim's Cafe, Redding, California
On my way to San Francisco. Got here around 7PM last night, to the hotel that is. I got to Redding hours before that, but there was no sign of the Travelodge. Stopped and asked locals for directions and they sort of got me closer, but then I stopped in a Comfort Suites and they had an internet equipped computer so I was able to pull up Google Maps and presto, the Travelodge was only a couple of miles down the road.

Had dinner at Lim's (above) which is just a couple of doors down the street, easy walking distance. Wasn't sure how hungry I was, and didn't know just what kind of place Lim's was. It looks like it could just be place that caters to the local alki's, but it turns out to be a real restaurant with real food. I had the almond chicken and it was fine. They brought me a big platter that I did not think I could eat, but I served myself one small portion after another and eventually the whole thing disappeared. Lim's has been in operating out of this same building for 60 years.

The A/C on the truck gave out mid-afternoon. I think the compressor has bought the farm. Horrible squealing noises from under the hood, bad smell from the vents and the cold air wasn't all that cold.

Listening to John Grisham's Street Lawyer on the way down. It's all about the homeless and how the govenrment and big corporations are out to screw them over.  Everywhere I stopped yesterday there were one or two or a few people down on their luck, hoofing it to somewhere. Kind of grim.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fly, me pretties, fly!

Joan Crawford in Strait Jacket from 1964
The solution to today's Jumble (which only appears in the dead-tree edition of newspapers) is:


It's a very common phrase, but where did it come from? Google provides an answer:
This is an American phrase and it alludes to the uncontrolled way a loose axe-head flies off from its handle.
Seems like I should have known that, and maybe I did, once upon a time.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Top Dog

LA Speed Check

A little story about the SR-71. Via Popular Mechanics.

LA from Tucson at 25 miles elevation
I got to wondering if you really could see LA from Tucson, so I pulled up the new Google Earth, and it seems plausible. 80,000 feet is only 15 miles, not 25, but in order to get Tucson in the picture we have to be sitting some distance east of it. Los Angeles is right on the horizon. Shift the view a little bit and LA goes over the horizon and disappears from view.

How new is the new Google Earth? I have no idea. Seems to be the same as the 3D view you get with Google Maps except the pan and tilt is now done with a tiny little circle instead of being able to just grab a point on the screen and drag it around.

Des Moines, Washington

Anthony's HomePort in Des Moines
Went up to Seattle to visit an old friend who had come from Dallas to visit family. Saves us having to fly to Texas, so good. Went to lunch at Anthony's in Des Moines. Who knew there was a Des Moines in Washington? Not me, the only one I had ever heard of is the big one in Iowa.

Salty's in Redondo Beach
After lunch we stopped for happy hour at Salty's in Redondo Beach. Redondo Beach? That name sounds familiar.  Well, yes it should be familiar, it's also the name of a place in southern California.

Afterward we are trying to find our way back, but the smart phones are giving the girls fits. We end up on Marine View Drive where I spied this imposing edifice.
Completed in 1926 as a retirement community for members of Washington’s Masonic Society, the Masonic Home of Washington in Des Moines serves as a showcase for Masonry in Washington State. Designed by the architectural firm of Heath, Gove, and Bell, the building features box beam ceilings, hand carved woodwork, stained glass, and terrazzo floors throughout. The same architectural firm designed Stadium High School in Tacoma and Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier, both of which are listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places. - Historic Seattle
The drive to Seattle and back was quick and easy, three hours each way, even with a stop for coffee. Traffic was very smooth, no big traffic jams due to construction like our previous trips to Seattle. There is still a bunch of construction going on around Tacoma which means the roads are a little rough, but traffic was flowing. There was a little hiccup when somebody's smart phone tried to direct us to a previously agreed upon rendezvous, not the new one. We ended up in downtown Tacoma and with traffic and construction we ended up spending about five minutes getting turned around. Stupid smart phone.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Tow hook protruding through airdam.
I helped Jack reinstall his winch underneath the front bumper of his Suburban this afternoon. It was a bit of a pain. We set the winch on a cart with a light duty hydraulic lift table, wheeled it under the front bumper and raised it up. Now we have to insert two mounting bolts on each side. Each bolt has to go through the winch support, a couple of solid steel spacers, the tow hook and then screw into a hole in the frame. Except. The hole in the frame is not threaded. There is bar of steel sitting loose in the frame that has two threaded holes. It has been rattling around in the frame every since Jack took the winch off for repair which was like a month ago. This bar needs to be positioned so that the threaded holes are directly above the holes in the frame. It took some poking and prodding with a pencil to get it into position. Now the trick is to get a bolt in the hole without dislodging the captive bar. Put the rear bolt in but leave out the spacers and the tow hook, that way there are only three pieces that need to lined up to get the bolt started. Once we had those started it was easy to run the front bolts through the pile of requisite pieces and get it started. Then we pulled out the rear bolt, pivoted the spacers and tow hook into position and reinserted the rear bolt.

Got the winch all bolted up, but we need to get the end of the cable out through the feed hole in the front. The winch repair man said no problem, just cut the retaining strap and pop the end through the hole. We wrestle with it for a bit, but it's not happening. Off comes the winch, but even now we can't get the end through the feed hole. We have to take the winch loose from the mounting bracket. Then we get to go through the whole mounting procedure again. Thanks, Mr. winch repair man.

New World Order

This line showed up on The Google's home page this morning:

The Amazon connects us all. Discover how with Google Earth

My first thought was that the two giants of the internet have decided to team up to further their quest for global domination. Since I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords, I clicked on the link, but instead of getting a map of all the great Amazon hot spots, I got some page about the Amazon river. Oh, they're talking about THE Amazon, not Amazon. Never mind.


Alice Cooper - I'm Eighteen

There is a story in The WSJ thing morning about this song (paywall). It came out in 1970. I was 19 and Alice was 22. That was a long time ago.

Trump and the Afghan Girls

Afghan teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House take pictures at Herat International Airport before embarking for the United States. (Hoshang Hashim/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
This group of girls wanted to attend a robotics competition in the USA, but were denied visas until the Donald intervened. One side of the aisle praises Trump for intervening with the State Department on the girls' behalf, the other side blames him for promoting an anti-muslim attitude. I suspect the State Department of being a rigid, rule-following bureaucracy, but I suppose that is what you want in a Federal Agency. You don't want people making arbitrary and capricious decisions that may later come back to bite us.
The State Department dismissed the girls’ visa requests at least twice, according to media reports, though, citing privacy laws, it did not spell out its reasons. One common reason Afghans are rejected for U.S. entry is the concern that they will overstay their visas and refuse to go back home.
The president became aware of the case and asked officials at the National Security Council to see what they could do. After those officials talked to counterparts at various agencies, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to allow the girls in on a system known as “parole,” which will allow them to stay in the United States for 10 days, though technically not on visas. - Politico

Banana Slugs

Jules and Vincent 'holster' their guns before leaving the diner in Pulp Fiction.
This morning Jack informs me that banana slugs have chewed through the hose carrying propane to his water heater. Tonight I catch the tail end of Pulp Fiction, just in time to see Travolta wearing a Santa Cruz Banana Slugs T-shirt. A coincidence like this cannot pass without notice.


Propane hose damaged by vermin.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura at Cliff House in San Francisco
Camera Obscura is Latin for 'dark room'. Let light from a pinhole or a lens into a dark room and it will project an image of the outside world on the opposite wall, so Camera Obscura is simply a fancy name for a very simple device. They have been around for millennia, Aristotle was familiar with the principle. Uniberp pointed out this one at Cliff House. Cliff House is a famous landmark in San Francisco. Those parking spaces out front are free, but there are only a few dozen, and being as this place is famous the odds of finding an open one there when you drive up are astronomical. Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Caption from image: The Camera Obscura, which is seen at many seaside places, is a striking example of how rays of light can be reflected in a different direction by a mirror placed at a slant. In the roof is a mirror at an angle of 45°, and this catches a reflection of the scene outside. The rays are directed upon a magnifying lens, placed in the right position to focus them, and the magnified view is cast upon a white table below. The top containing the mirror can be rotated by means of a handle turning a series of gear wheels, so that an image of the view all round can be reflected upon the table. The Camera Obscura was invented by a Neapolitan physician named Porta who found that by passing light through a double-convex lens he obtained a brighter image

ADDICTED TO LOVE (1997) - Official Movie Trailer

This reminded me of this movie (Addicted to Love) where Sam the jilted uses a Camera Obscura to spy on his ex-girlfriend. The images from the device make a few brief appearances in the trailer starting at the one minute mark. The movie is absurd. It was, however, entertaining. Comedy and stupidity are blood-brothers.

P.S. How to type a degree symbol on Linux: Ctrl + Shift + u (this will show an underlined u) and then the unicode value (in this case B0 ) and follow it by Enter.


Convicted Grape Plucker
Question on Quora:
Is it legal to eat a single grape in a supermarket?

Via Iaman.


People mentioned in the video:
Via Iaman, who asks if our father was a stoic.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Snow? Or Whiteout?

Portion of Letsang Diamond Mine Facilities in Lesotho, Africa
The elevation here is about 10,000 feet, so I suppose the white stuff in the center of the screen could be snow, but it looks more like somebody wrote over the image with a white marker. Or an eraser. Someone could be trying to conceal something, but what? It's a very public enterprise.

Pic of the Day

1967 ERICKSON S64E Rotorcraft dropping during the Beaver creek fire in Blaine County Idaho summer 2013 with a firenado in the background - Loren Wood
Previous appearances of Skycrane herehere and here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

People Will Die

Remy: People Will Die!

Great stuff. Via Windy Pundit.


FedEx MD-11 and Cessna Caravan in Phoenix
Delivery trucks are a common occurrence on our street. Seems like you can't be outside for more than a few minutes before either a UPS or FedEx or DHL delivery van shows up. This got me to thinking that these guys might be able to save some money if they pooled their talents, but I suppose that would take some of the edge off of the competition that makes their service so popular. It would also add another layer of bureaucracy and that's never a good thing. So the current arrangement will continue as long as the deliveries don't get so frequent that they start getting in each other's way. I can just imagine things getting so congested that delivery men start pushing and shoving and then we get tempers flying and the next thing you know we've got a small scale riot in suburbia.

Posthip Scott sent me this pleasant little story from The New York Times about how everything got delivered back in the good old days. I remember milk, newspapers and oil were all delivered to our house when I was a kid. Many houses still use oil, and it's still delivered by truck.

Why did things change? Because more people got cars? Towns got bigger? Everyone wants cheaper prices? Or maybe people just like their new cars so much they would use any old excuse to go for a drive. Crazy.

You can still get the newspaper delivered if you are willing to shell out the money. The local paper would cost something like $40 a month to get it delivered everyday and I'm too cheap to pay that much. At the last rate increase I changed to Sunday only, or at least I tried. Seems you can't get Sunday only service, the best you can do is Sunday and Wednesday, which costs something like $20 a month.

I still like to have a morning paper to read with my breakfast. That will continue until we remodel our kitchen so that every seat at the kitchen table has it's own HD display screen. I haven't come up with an arrangement that would allow you to have an unobstructed table for food (unobstructed so it is easy to clean), and a bunch of HD displays that you don't have to carry around with you. Yes, I know, everyone has a smart phone these days, well, everyone but me. I refuse to use a tiny screen. I spent my entire life wanting a bigger display and I am not about to start using a tiny screen. That's just bullshit.

Newspapers are fairly low resolution, like 100 pixels per inch, but when the paper is better than two feet square, that adds up to some serious display power. Holding up a full sheet lets you scan the whole thing quickly. Folding it up lets you concentrate on what you want to read without obscuring your breakfast, and when you are done you can throw it away. I'm sorry, smart phones are just fancy gee-gaws, more trouble and expense than they are worth.

Yesterday while I am working on my truck a woman drives up, gets out of her car and carries a package up to the house. She's delivering for Amazon using her own car. The package? Instant coffee. I'll be durned.

The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden - Official Trailer

Free on Amazon Prime, not to be confused with The Handmaid's Tale, for which Amazon wants $10.

The movie appears to be set in Korea in the 1930's. The Handmaiden is an 'erotic psychological thriller film directed by Park Chan-wook' who also gave us Oldboy. It's pretty great. The New Yorker has a good review.

The story is complicated and a little bizarre (a little bizarre? More like totally psycho.), but the best part is that when the story is first told it is completely believable (given that it is a movie), but with each subsequent retelling, everything you thought was true is revealed to have been a lie. Very cleverly done.

Friday, July 14, 2017


It looks like I am going to be driving my pickup truck to San Francisco in a couple of weeks to pick up younger son and his stuff. In that case there are a couple of minor problems I should take care of before I go. They are minor annoyances around town, but on a long trip they could very easily become aggravations. I can put up with the occasional annoyance, but aggravations need to be dealt with.

So today I decided I would tackle the collapsed drivers seat cushion. First step is to pull the seat out of the cab so I can see what I am dealing with. Shouldn't be too difficult, I pull the two 18 mm bolts in back and two 13 mm bolts in the front, grab hold of the seat and heave . . . and nothing. Oh, look, the center jump seat is attached, and if it's attached on this side, you can bet it's attached on the other. This means I will have to remove both front seats and the jump seat as one assembly. Fortunately Osmany is next door, so I pull the other four bolts and we haul the seat out. I pick up on the driver's side and crouch-walk across the cab, but when I get to the far side I am kind of stuck. Somehow we get the seat out without anyone getting killed. I think this was mostly due to Osmany being the man on the spot.

Turn the seats upside down and the first thing I notice is that this is a very unstable arrangement. Bungy cords from the mounting holes and around the seat backs calms things down. Now I can see that the springs on the driver's seat are all loose, so perhaps we need new springs. I take the one that I found rolling around loose on the floor several months ago and head over to NAPA. Counter man roots around in the back and comes up with a box of springs, but none that match, so I head over to Lowes to see what they've got. The only springs I find there are screen door springs. I might be able to cut one of those up into several shorter springs, but they are going to be much weaker, so I would need many more. I pass and head back to the house.

Broken joint between cross tube and side rail
I take a closer look at the seat and realize there is nothing wrong with the springs, the cross brace that the springs hook onto has broken free of the seat frame and is simply rattling around loose. Shit. The cross brace is like 3/4 of a tube about one inch in diameter. The ends sit in holes in the side rails, or very close to it. The cross brace was welded to the side rails, but the welds have broken.

My first thought is to get a couple of Stanley right angle brackets, drill holes in the side rails and cross piece and bolt it all together, but that is going to be tough. The old welds will have to be ground off and space is tight.

Cross tube held in place by broom sticks. Security screw in center, two springs hooked on.
Then inspiration hits. An old broom stick cut to length would fit inside the tube and through the holes in the side rails. I cut two pieces about seven inches long, slide them into the tube, put the tube back in place and then slide the pieces so they are just projecting through the holes in the side rails. There is bolt hole in the center of the tube, I put a quarter inch screw in there and secure it with a nut. That will keep the broom sticks from sliding back out of the side rails.

Repair Complete
I use a quarter inch drill bit to gouge out a recess in the broom sticks to allow room for the hooks on the springs. Hook up the wire supports and springs and we're good to go. It might not be the best or most durable repair, but it was really cheap. I did have to sacrifice my favorite whacking stick, but all in all, a good trade.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Good Eats

Alton Brown on Good Eats
I've caught this guy a couple of times while channel flipping. I don't care for food shows generally, but this guy is whacko, he brings in extraneous info, and he's pretty entertaining.

I was watching an episode about pickles this evening and this blurb comes up on the screen about how back in the 1300's the Europeans wiped out half of southeast Asia in their quest for nutmeg. That seem's a little extreme and a heck of long time ago, is there any truth here? Well, the Dutch did pretty much wipe out the population on one small island in the 1600's. So I maybe I got it wrong.

Banda Islands
Google Maps
These islands were the sole source of nutmeg until the Brits got ahold of them when Napoleon overran Holland. Then they took and transplanted complete trees all over their empire, which is why you can buy nutmeg at the corner store now. So if it hadn't been for Napoleon, you would have to mortgage your house (probably to a Dutchman) in order to buy a 2 ounce tin.

Update June 2019 corrected spelling of Napoleon.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


More stuff about Global Warming showed up on my desktop today. Are mankind's activities disrupting the balance of nature? Maybe. It's a little hard to tell since almost all the information I have seen is politically slanted one way or another. I've looked at half a dozen websites that all claim to be providing the facts and none of them could tell me much CO2 is produced each year. We have a pretty good idea how much CO2 is in the atmosphere (720 billion tons), and how much is being produced by human activities (6 billion tons annually), but nobody seems to know how much is being produced by natural sources, or if they are, they aren't telling.

A computer-generated view of Venus' western Eistla Regio. The volcano on the right, Gula Mons, rises 3 km high.
Detroit Steve dropped this line into the discussion: "Venus the planet is a good example, it should only be 60 degrees warmer than earth, based on distance to the sun. It is 600 degree warmer due to all its CO2 never being pulled out of the atmosphere."

The idea of the temperature of the Earth shooting up to 600 degrees (whatever scale you want to use) is a very scary prospect. Is that going to happen? Well, that's $64  question isn't it? Maybe we should take a closer look at the info that is prompting people to imagine such catastrophic scenarios.

Then we have this concise summation of the problem from a paper written in 1981:
Political and economic forces affecting energy use and fuel choice make it unlikely that the CO2 issue will have a major impact on energy policies until convincing observations of the global warming are in hand. In light of historical evidence that it takes several decades to complete a major change in fuel use, this makes large climate change almost inevitable. However, the degree of warming will depend strongly on the energy growth rate and choice of fuels for the next century. Thus, CO2 effects on climate may make full exploitation of coal resources undesirable. An appropriate strategy may be to encourage energy conservation and develop alternative energy sources, while using fossil fuels as necessary during the next few decades.
The climate change induced by anthropogenic release of CO2 is likely to be the most fascinating global geophysical experiment that man will ever conduct. The scientific task is to help determine the nature of future climatic effects as early as possible. The required efforts in global observations and climate analysis are challenging, but the benefits from improved understanding of climate will surely warrant the work invested. - Hansen et al
Some parts of the world, mostly the industrialized West, are promoting technological solutions that will replace electrical power generated from burning fossil fuels by things like wind mills and solar panels. Nuclear power has the potential to make a much greater impact more quickly, except that big bureaucracies seem to be unable to successfully manage such complex systems.

Perhaps our technical efforts will bear fruit and we will be able to curtail our CO2 emissions and global warming will abate. They might not. Then we might be looking at some really scary options. Remember when they used to warn us that all-out nuclear war would bring a nuclear winter? If the temperature at the Arctic Circle ever reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, someone might put that option on the table.

WiFi Repeaters

300M Wireless-N Wifi Repeaters 2.4G AP Router Signal Booster Extender Amplifier
My family was complaining about not being able to reliably connect using WiFi, so last year I bought one these repeaters. It helped, but I was still getting complaints, so a couple of weeks ago I ordered another one for $16. A couple of weeks go by and we're wondering where it is. When I check I realize that not only is it not Prime (free two-day shipping), it's coming from China and won't be here for another two weeks. So I look around for one that is Prime, and I found this one.

NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender, Essentials Edition (EX2700)
This one is Amazon's best seller. It costs almost double ($30) but it is Prime. I ordered it and two days later it is here, installed and working, and the complaints have abated.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Pic of the Day

Antonov AN70, Paris Le Bourget, Jean-Pierre Martinroche
The Antonov An-70 is a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft, and the first large aircraft to be powered by propfanengines. It was developed in the late 1980s by the Antonov design bureau to replace the obsolete An-12 military transport aircraft. However, the dissolution of the Soviet Union prevented the mass production of the type. The maiden flight of the first prototype took place on 16 December 1994 in Kiev, now independent Ukraine. Within a year the prototype plane had suffered a mid-air collision. A second airframe was produced and tests continued but numerous further attempts to start production have been unsuccessful. - Wikipedia
The Russians, and their former comrades, the Ukrainians, seem to have a thing for contra-rotating propellers. The Russians use them in the Bear Bomber, and some of their helicopters.

Friday, July 7, 2017