Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Thea Foss, AKA Infanta
I'm reading Glacier Pilot by Beth Day, and she mentions John Barrymore's yacht Infanta in Valdez Alaska in 1937, so I have to go look it up. The word infanta is used to describe a child of the king in Portugal and Spain. The boat is still afloat, cruising around Puget Sound.

John Barrymore (left) and totem pole.
Poking around, I found that John stole a totem pole from an island is southern Alaska, took it to California on his yacht and had it set up in his backyard. Barrymore was a millionaire back in the 1920's when being a millionaire meant something. Kind of like being a billionaire now.

La Llorona

Angela Aguilar - La Llorona - Video Oficial

This tune popped up on Osmany's playlist as we were driving to St. Johns. It's pretty great.

America and Mexico have different views of death. I don't quite understand it. Perhaps because Americans put a higher value on life, or maybe Mexico is more in tune with how capricious fate is.

La Llorona is a very old, very tragic tale.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Big Tires

Dirt Every Day FULL EPISODE | Stock Trucks vs. the Rubicon Trail!—Episode 83

20 odd years ago Marc & I drove his Isuzu Trooper to Reno Nevada to watch the air races. The unlimited class, which was all WW2 fighters, was the big draw. With the craze for safety that was sweeping the country we figured anything this dangerous was going to be banned any day now, so we decided we wanted to see one of these races before they disappeared completely. This was before that warbird last a trim tab and dove into the ground.

Marc had gotten into offroading and had made some minor modifications to his Trooper, and since we are driving all the way to Reno, we decided to tackle the Rubicon trail.

On the way down something happened that has stuck with me all this time. We were driving down highway 58 southeast from Eugene to highway 97. It was late and just after we turned onto 97 a little old man in a little old Japanese truck came flying by us, between us and a big truck with inches to spare. He must have been going about 90 MPH. We were moving at what we thought was a pretty good clip, maybe 70 MPH or so, but that wasn't fast enough for Mr. Wizened old man. It woke us up.

Rubicon Trail, Lake Tahoe & Reno Nevada
Our experience on the Rubicon trail was very similar to that shown in the video. We didn't have any break downs, but it was a real struggle. We spent half of our time scouting the area on foot trying to figure out how we were going to get past the next obstacle.

On our second night we had just made camp when we heard rock and roll music coming from a hill a mile away. It slowly got closer and after a bit we started seeing headlights. Eventually a Jeep rolled up on enormous tires. What had taken us 2 days, these guys had covered in a matter of hours.

The thing that bothers me is I can't be sure just how big those tires were. John bought a set of big fat Dick Cepek tires for his aging F-150 and compared to the tires on my Hyundai, they look huge. But compared to my memory of the tires on that Jeep, they look small. Tires that are just a couple of inches larger in diameter look enormous until you measure them with a ruler and then they seem to shrink down to normal dimensions. It's just weird, man.


Golf Dream
I dreamt I was playing golf. My ball had landed on an uphill slope, a couple of feet downhill from another player's ball. It was right in line with the cup. I was going to have to hit my ball over his and I decided that my puny club wasn't big enough for the job, so I asked to borrow the other player's driver, but he smugly turned me down. So I went looking for my own driver. My search took me into the restaurant next door (which was next to the big white barn which was next to the green) where I had to squeeze by a pregnant lady who was standing in the aisle,  Then I saw my mother standing in the lobby talking to some people. (She died several years ago.) I didn't have a good view of her, it was one of those situations where you know who the person is even though you can't see them clearly. I suppose it's a subconscious recognition of movement, posture and voice. But this was a dream, so my mind could have short circuited all that and just told me it was my mother. About then I realized I didn't really want my driver, I wanted my chipper, and then I realized that in real life I didn't have any golf clubs anymore. Oh, guess I'm awake.

I don't often have vivid dreams, but when I do I try to record them, mostly just to exercise my writing skill, such as it is.

Sink Success

Sink Drain
Saturday John and I installed the counter tops and the sink in his kitchen. That was all pretty straight forward. Hooking up the water lines was also relatively simple, but hooking up the drain was an exercise in creative engineering. You might think that that someone would have sorted this business out, but no. It took five trips to the store to get all the pieces we needed. The first trip was a couple of weeks ago when we thought we might be getting to the point where we needed drain pipes. Turns out those pieces were all wrong. About a week later we picked up a couple of packages at Lowes, and I think we used most of one package, but it wasn't enough. We needed a special piece to connect to the sink, and then we needed some extensions, and then we needed an adapter to actually connect to the sewer.  We needed three extensions to make this whole thing work. But it's all connected and nothing is leaking (cross my fingers).

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Attack Of The Lesbian Squirrels: Ride Off Into The Sunset

Rush - Tom Sawyer (Official Music Video)

More inspired lunacy, this time in text form, from Adaptive Curmudgeon, wherein this tune (above) is referenced. I recognized the words, but I had no idea who it came from. Haven't heard this song in a long time.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Russian Jets Refuel

Refueling In The Air Su-34, Mig-31BM Of The Western Military District From Il-78

I have decided that all news sources are irrelevant, but I still want to know what's going on in the world so I went to my old standby, RT, formerly known at Russia Today, where I found this video clip. RT didn't use YouTube to host it, so I decided to see if I could embed it here using the proferred embed code. Apparently it worked.

Russia has some odd planes. Some look like fighters but are really big, more like the size of a small bomber. Sizes of warplanes are hard to determine because there is so little to go by. About the only clue is the size of the glass in the cockpit and even that can be deceiving. Does that window look small because it is small, or because the airplane is enormous?

Update April 2022 replaced missing video with something of similar vintage. The original came with this title: "Russian MiG-31 interceptor and Su-34 fighter-bomber execute refueling at more than 19,000 feet" but now "This video is not available in your country".

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Monday afternoon I am sitting and waiting for Osmany to finish packing for his trip to Miami. Rush hour is approaching (it starts around 3PM now), so I thought I should check with Google Maps and see which route we should take to the airport. Google failed. Actually, I don't know what failed, but the route never materialized on my phone. I don't know if it was my phone (a Samsung Galaxy something or other), the cell phone network (Tracfone), or something farther up the line. Nobody else seemed to be having any trouble, but they all have Apple phones and use Verizon for service. Also, voice transcription failed. At first I thought my microphone had been disabled, but making a simple phone call worked fine. I suspect some node that connected Tracfone users to Google got swamped.

I wasn't the only one who got hit. My wife happened to be at Freddies when they had a major snafu with the credit card system.

Update February 2020 figured out what the problem was.


Boska Cheese Slicer
I need to rethink our holiday meals. Standard family meal consists of mom cooking vegetables in the kitchen and me grilling meat outside on the patio. That works fine in the summer time, but for some reason, we do it that way even when the weather is wretched. We celebrated Christmas on Sunday as Osmany was flying to Miami on Monday to visit more relatives.

Osmany cooked a turkey on the grill for Thanksgiving and that turned out great. I don't think the weather was any better then. But on this Sunday I could not get the charcoal to light. Oh, it would light, but it took almost an hour for it to really get going. It was pouring rain, but I had the charcoal grill under the patio umbrella, so we didn't have water pouring down on it. The only thing I can think is that the charcoal absorbed water out of the air during the month it was sitting outside in the gardening box. That and being cold combined to make it reluctant to catch fire. Guess I'll need to keep it inside the house if I am going to keep doing this. Or maybe I should learn to use the broiler.

We got the steaks cooked, but they came out pretty much well done, which was way more than the guys liked but it made the girls happy. It also made dinner an hour late, which discombobulated the timing for everything else, but it all turned out pretty well.

John got me the cheese slicer (above) because I horrified him when I cut up a block of cheddar using a carving knife. Don't understand that, but hey, cool new cheese slicer.

Project Car

1965 Volvo pv544
Uniberp has taken on a new project:
I bought this 1965 Volvo pv544 and had it brought home Saturday. Needs assembly, but the body is incredibly restored. It includes 99% of all parts necessary for re-assembly, including all new rubber seals.
My big decision is what windscreen to buy; they come in 3 colors: clear, green and green with a blue shade.
If you are going to undertake a restoration project, this is the way to do it. Pick up a project that is almost done, that way you have a chance of completing it. This one looks good, but it is still going to take a great deal of work to finish it. What's that rule of thumb? The last 10% of a job takes as much effort as the first 90%. Of course, that depends on much of a perfectionist you are and how much time you are willing to spend cleaning up bits that no one will ever see.



Came across this tool on CoolTools. It is a very slick tool for making hose clamps out of bailing wire. I thought it was pretty cool, so I told my gang about it.  Yesterday Jack brought this to show and tell:

Home made hose clamp tool #1

Home made hose clamp tool #2
Jack's dad made this 80 years ago because he didn't like spending money on hose clamps.

It's a great tool to have if you ever need a hose clamp. You don't need to carry a selection of clamps, with this tool, one size fits all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Knives Out

Knives Out (2019) New Trailer – Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

Took the family to the movie theater this evening. Haven't done that in a long while. My wife bought the tickets so I don't know how much it cost, but from what Ross told me the other day, I suspect it is in the range of $15 a head. Being old has certain advantages. You don't have to do as much, and when you do actually do something, it's a big deal, so you can splurge a little bit.

Things have changed at the the theater. The box office, with four ticket windows, was empty. My wife had one of them thar Q squares on her phone and that was enough to get us a pleasant greeting as we passed the check-point and down the hall to our assigned seats in an auditorium with stadium seating.

The movie was a very silly, meticulous, who-dun-it, dun in the style of an Agatha Christy novel. (She's the one who wrote the Hercule Poirot, isn't she?) It was perfect, every stylized character was there, in style. Every line was exactly where you expected it to be. Sometimes it was just so perfect I had to laugh. The plot is twisted. I think they must have called in a contortionist for this one. When Daniel Craig is getting close to solving the puzzle, he explains it (to Marta, I think) using a donut as an analogy. It is stupendous. And Marta has a peculiar trait that is exploited very effectively.

Some other old faces showed up:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Don Johnson
  • Christopher Plummer
I recognized them, I didn't recognize any of the younger players, even though some of them might be famous.

P.S. Showtime was 7 PM, but there was a half hour of previews and advertisements before the show actually started.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Ilya Muromets

Bogatyrs (1898) by Viktor Vasnetsov. Left to right: Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets and Alyosha Popovich
According to legends, Ilya Muromets, the son of a farmer, was born in a village near Murom. He suffered a serious illness in his youth and was unable to walk until the age of 33. He could only lie on a Russian stove, until he was miraculously healed by two pilgrims. He was then given super-human strength by a dying knight – Svyatogor – and set out to liberate the city of Kiev from Idolishche to serve Prince Vladimir the Fair Sun. Along the way he single-handedly defended the city of Chernigov from nomadic invasion and was offered knighthood by the local ruler, but Ilya declined to stay. In the forests of Bryansk he then killed the forest-dwelling monster Nightingale the Robber, who murdered travelers with his powerful whistle.
In Kiev, Ilya was made chief bogatyr by Prince Vladimir and he defended Rus' from numerous attacks by the steppe people, including Kalin, the tsar of Golden Horde. Generous and simple-minded but also temperamental, Ilya once went on a rampage and destroyed all the church steeples in Kiev after Prince Vladimir failed to invite him to a celebration. He was soon appeased when Vladimir sent for him. - condensed from Wikipedia
He must have made an impression. Russia is still enamored of him.

Igor Sikorsky named his giant four engined WW1 bomber after him.

Ilya Muromets bomber 1914
Russian Ice Breaker Ilya Muromets
Wikipedia has an article
Volga River Cruise Ship Ilya Muromets
Via daily timewaster

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Think Like A Criminal

Sabotage by Barse-Miller
Stolen from The Gregarious Loner
The last shop I worked in, a few years ago, was the backroom of a used car dealer.  Nice place, and the dealer was a truly decent person.
On my first day I was given an auction car to go over,  with the goal of reconning it to reliability for our lot.  I don't recall the make or model, just that it had an ABS module under the hood.
The vehicle had a dash lit like a Christmas tree, with all sorts of warning lights on.  It only took about 15 minutes to zero in on the ABS module under the hood, and a physical inspection found the gang-connector had been backed off enough to lose connection.
Now, the connector on that thing carries a locking tab, and simply can't back off by accident.  Not without destroying the whole shebang.  It had been disconnected on purpose.
When I showed Dean what I found, and the easy fix, I made the comment "I have no idea how that could happen".  Dean laughed, and explained.
It was 'auction sabotage'.  Buyers (car salesmen mainly) purposefully sabotage the cars going into the sales lane in hopes the warning lights and inoperable features will drive down prices for them.  The thing is, it never works because everyone there knows all about it.  That doesn't stop the idiots from continuing to do it though, even at the risk of being permanently black-balled from the auction.
Huh.... I had no concept of a thought process that underhanded and deceitful.   It presented an entirely new challenge, and not long after that day I  transformed myself into an expert on the ways of scheming, low life, sack-o-crap, auction car-buyers.
He goes on to compare this mindset to some of the shenanigans going on in Washington D.C., but this was the best part.

Lighthouse of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra
Interior via Google Photosphere
50 miles ENE of Sevastopol, Crimea. As you can see the interior is pretty spectacular.

Via daily timewaster

Death to Crawlspaces

How to Install CSST Fittings

A crawlspace is the space between the floor of a house and the ground. It is typically accessed through a trapdoor in the floor. It is about two feet high, though the beams that support the floor impinge on that. Modern houses in the south don't have them. Houses down there are typically built on cable reinforced concrete slabs. Houses in the Midwest, and other places where it freezes solid in the winter, used to be built with basements. I don't know what they do now. They may be building on slabs as well. Or maybe since the collapse of the US steel and auto industries, they don't build any houses.

Here in Oregon, crawlspaces are ubiquitous, and they are awful. They are repositories for all the rubbish that is generated during construction. They are filthy and dusty and full of uncomfortable rocks.

They are also the preferred place for all the utility lines like water, sewer, gas and electric, so if you need to do anything with any of that you get to go down in the crawlspace and crawl around. Bah, double bah, humbug and a curse on all your mothers. Geez.

P.S. CSST stands for Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing

Monday, December 16, 2019

World of Warcraft, Redux

World of Warcraft
I finished Neal Stephenson's Fall. It starts with a man dying, having his brain digitized and uploaded into a computer where he creates a digital simulation of a world, a world that has only a single island in the middle of an endless sea. Neal doesn't talk about this digital world much, everything is focused on our heroes' activities on the island, the bulk of which is an adventure story set in medieval times.

Fighting is done with sticks and stones (swords and crossbows), and the occasional magical spell, no guns here.  In the last half of the book he spends about one page out of a hundred talking about what's going on in the real world, and that is a hard science-fiction fantasy. It costs money to become a citizen of the digital afterlife. There's the digitization, and then there are computer systems needed to simulate you and your place in the world. So many rich people want to be digitized when they die that supporting bitworld has become a major industry on, and off earth. A hundred years go by and we have orbital power stations that feed power to simulation computers that are also in orbit. Asteroids are being mined for raw materials. Seems that every resource on the planet is directed towards expanding bitworld.

And it's really just a very fine simulation of World of Warcraft. The adventure story was a fine tale with heroes and villains and supernatural monsters but it seems like kind of a waste. I mean so much could be done with simulations of the real world, why would you want to spend your energy on a pumped up video game? Oh, that's right, entertainment is the biggest industry in the universe. If it isn't, it will be shortly.

You don't have to use your massive computer power to simulate the real world. You could create any kind of universe you wanted, with whatever kind of rules you liked. You could allow time travel, teleportation, becoming invisible, not having a body at all, being simply a collection of photos charging off in all directions simultaneously. The possibilities are endless. But maybe being as we are starting with people, and people are familiar with what they are, maybe simulating people as people is the right way to go. But why are we back in the medieval days?

Quote of the Day

A weird little rabbit hole leads me to this: there seem to be a lot of people who imagine they can treat what other people say as a sort of modeling clay out of which they can fashion anything they like, and then attribute their own newly-form idea back to the original author. - Joseph Moore
This sounds a whole lot like what goes on in the media and in high level government "investigations".

P.S. I considered creating a new label to describe this: word-crime.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Homo narrans

This story showed up on Feedly. I was just going to post a link to the originating site, but it's gone 404, so I copied it here.

by Richard Fernandez
The basic thesis of Martin Gurri's The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millenium is that "the information technologies of the 21st century have enabled the public, composed of amateurs, people from nowhere, to break the power of the political hierarchies of the industrial age." The result has been "the mass extinction of stories of legitimacy".  Gurri believes this informational meteor strike has caused the political upheaval we see around us.
I think Gurri is spot on.

P.S. The image is of Jupiter.
P.P.S. 'Homo narans' simply means 'man told'.

Bozo Derangement Syndrome

David Warren has a fine story about political viewpoints.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


I try to ignore politics, but it is so pervasive some of it gets through to me anyway. I know, for instance that Donald Trump is the President of the USA, and Boris Johnson just won a landslide victory in the UK. If you mention my representative or my senators, I will probably recognize their names.

My vote my be important, and I would vote if someone would tell me who to vote for. If I agreed with the Democrats or the Republicans it would be easy, I could just vote the straight party ticket. But both parties have big defects, so I'm not going to do that.

Then I got a big idea: a web site that helps you figure out who to vote for.  Have a list of issues. All you have to do is decide how much you care about the issue (and which direction you lean), and the website would sort through the various candidates and pick the ones that best suit your viewpoint.

It might be a little difficult to sort out some of these people, what with the weasel words, flip-flopping and the way some issues get combined with others so if you support one, you're shooting yourself in the foot on the other.

Then you might want to grade each candidate on character, things like crimes, scams and scandals would need to be evaluated. You can bet politics will try to color this score.

Of course, this would only be useful for people who like getting their data in black and white. Not everybody is a reader. I suspect a goodly majority of people prefer getting their information the old fashioned way: by word of mouth, straight from the television.

And how would you ensure the whole thing was accurate? Sounds like a lot of work, but think of the advertising revenue. It could be the next Facebook.


A hired reader reads to cigar makers hard at work in Cuban cigar factory, ca. 1900-1910.
Trying to get some painting done at John's house and I realized everybody likes to paint but hardly anybody does it because all the prep work and clean up are a real pain, which got me to thinking about work in general.

One of the big motivations for automation is that it eliminates drudgery, but that is just a fantasy they tell us to disguise the real reason which is to cut costs.

There are several aspects of working that can affect how you feel about your job. There are the people you work with, how physically demanding it is, whether it makes any sense and, or course, how much you get paid. Good pay can compensate for a multitude of petty aggravations. Pleasant co-workers can likewise compensate for low pay.

There have always been armies of workers doing repetitive tasks. That's how you get things done. You break down a complex procedure into a series of simple tasks. Each task can be quickly taught to a single person. Get everyone trained on their appointed task and the whole organization can start producing useful goods.

People (women, mostly) were weaving cloth by hand for thousands of years before the introduction of automatic looms. Because they worked in close proximity to each other, and because they had been doing this work for so long it only required a small portion of their brain, they could converse with the other women working nearby, which might explain why women seem to talk more than men.

We had a housekeeper a while back who did great work. I came across her a couple of times while she was working and she was talking up a storm. On her cellphone. With earbuds. I wouldn't be surprised if she turned on her cell phone when she she started work and let it run all day long.

Cigar rolling is big business in Cuba. There would be dozens of people sitting at benches rolling cigers. Then there would be one person appointed to be the reader. He would sit in a tall chair and read the newspaper to the people who were working. From the pictures I've seen, it looks like it was mostly men. Funny, that.

My problems with work stemmed from two problems: low pay and boredom. As long as I was learning something, any amount of pay was fine, but once I had learned enough about the job, then pay became an issue, which usually meant finding another job. I think that might be why I gravitated to computers. I had learned all I wanted to about mechanical machinery, but computers offered endless complexity.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Horses, again

Lemaitre - Higher ft. Maty Noyes

Another piece of inspired lunacy. I don't know about the tune, I only listened to it once. We shall see. But the video is great: we have a veteran (of some sort) preparing a young woman for some kind of contest. It isn't until we get to the end that we find out it involves horses.

Rube Gold Gun

Rube Goldberg Machine... But With GUNS!!!

What we have here is an inspired piece of lunacy for your amusement. I've got a cold and I'm feeling a little miserable, so today this video is just my speed.

As our host explains, black powder guns are not considered guns by the ATF, never mind that the American Civil War was fought with black powder weapons.

Now I want to see a Rube Goldberg machine that incorporates a trebuchet throwing a piano.

Good News from Africa

A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, is on display at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, on Oct. 11. STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/NTB SCANPIX/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Whenever I go to St. Johns to work on John's house, I stop at the 7-11 for coffee and a donut. The donut is my reward for driving over the west hills via Germantown road, and donuts require coffee. The guy at the cash register in the 7-11 is from Ethiopia, and when I ask about how things are over there, he tells me that the Prime Minister has just won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the 20 year old war with Eritrea, so things might be getting a little better.

This is the second time an immigrant from Ethiopia has made it to this blog.

Southern Culture on the Skids: Camel Walk

Southern Culture on the Skids: Camel Walk (band video)

I posted a link to this video not too long ago, but it really deserves a post of its own. Shoot, it deserves a monument. The rhythm guitar sounds like every bar band I've ever heard, but I can't think of another tune that has got a strong rhythm chorus like this. Okay, it's been an eon since I've heard a bar band, but still.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Death to Our Digital Overlords

Magnus Robot Fighter
Why is it that when you have plenty of time all these fancy on-line systems work perfectly, but when you are in a time crunch they break down and spill their bits all over the floor? Murphy's law I suppose. Stupid robots.

I remember reading Magnus Robot Fighter comics when I was a kid. Even then I thought the premise was a bit shaky. No human, no matter how strong or well trained is going to be able to smash metal robots with his bare hands. It did make for a cool story though.

Where is Magnus now that we need him? I suspect our real robot fighters are hackers with 1337 skills.


Yesterday I sent a note to Forbes:
Stop using the term 'market capitalization' when you should be using 'market valuation'. Capital is what you invest in a company. The stock market valuation has nothing to do with the amount of money invested.
Yes, I know, everybody does it. That doesn't make it right.
The last instance I came across was in your story about George Pedersen.
This morning I open a story (also from Forbes):
Digital Bank Chime Now Has A Valuation Of $5.8 Billion
Even if they listened to me, I doubt they could react that quickly. Still, a nice little bubble of happiness in my morning.

The story about Chime didn't tell me much, other than some people think digital banks might be a good place to invest their money. The only reason I can surmise for that is that they are dispensing with the brick & mortar store front operations. For people who grew up in the 20th century, when cash was king, a big brick bank with a big steel vault could be a reassuring presence in your economic life. These days, for many people, as long as that little plastic card works, cash is just a nuisance. If you never go to the bank, why would you care if they have an office that you can visit?

Near as I can tell, owning a bank is the nearest thing to having a printing press that prints money. They take in deposits from zillions of people working for wages, and then they lend out five or ten times that amount to people who want to borrow money. Of course, lending money is a risky business, which is why banks make you jump through hoops before they will fork over the dough.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Flying Horses

Ash and smoke from Popocatepetl volcano seen from Puebla, central Mexico
A KLM flight from Amsterdam to Mexico City turned back because of a volcanic eruption near Mexico City. You may remember when all flights over Europe were shut down a few years ago because of a volcano erupting in Iceland.

Eleven hour flight to nowhere
This one made the news because the flight was already over North America when they turned back which meant the passengers enjoyed an eleven hour flight to nowhere. You might think they could have landed in New York or some other big airport (I certainly did), but when you compare the inevitable hotel bills and the hassles with immigration with the actual cost of the flying the airplane, maybe turning around makes sense. Then you add in horses and all of sudden I have no idea.

Flying Horses
Seems they had a big cargo of horses as well as humans.

KLM Boeing 747-400 Combi Floor Plan

Mobil Oil Flying Horse Logo
If you remember ever seeing this sign on your local gas station, you might be old.

P.S. The Prague Zoo is flying horses to Mongolia. I do not know why.

Via Flight Aware

Two Sides of the same Coin

Areas of Influence of Major Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations within DEA Field Offices 
Can that be right? Is the DEA really reporting on how corrupt they are? Are they really working with the Mexican drug cartels? 'Influence' is the wrong word. This line is a little better:
The pie charts seen on the maps show the percentage of cases attributed to specific Mexicancartels in an individual DEA office area of responsibility.
To me, the DEA is just as bad as the drug cartels. The only reason the DEA exists is to restrict the flow of drugs so as to ensure prices and profits remain high, and given the falling price of drugs, they aren't even doing a very good job of that.

We really need a new religion, something better than sex, drugs and rock & roll. Don't get me wrong, sex, drugs and rock & roll are all great forms of entertainment, but they don't make a very good foundation for life. You need something more substantial, well, you do if you want to amount to anything. If you are content build your life on sand, well then, be prepared to be swallowed by that sand.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Þrídrangar Lighthouse

Þrídrangar Lighthouse, Iceland
I came across a smaller version of this picture as a meme about Jehovah's Witnesses. It took a little pointing and clicking to find out where it was. When I did, I tried to locate it on Google Maps, but it's not there:

Þrídrangar (Thridrangur)
1939. Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); long white flash followed by a short white flash every 30 s. 4 m (13 ft) square concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. Ingvar Hreinsson has a closeup photo, Sigmar Þór Sveinbjörnsson has a photo, and Steve Fernie has a distant view from the sea, but the islet is not seen in Google's satellite view. Photos and videos of this isolated and "terrifying" lighthouse suddenly went viral in July 2016. Located on the largest of three isolated rocks about 13 km (8 mi) west northwest of Heimaey. Accessible only by helicopter (with an experienced pilot). VIT-278; Admiralty L4802; NGA 18080.

There are several other chunks of rock sticking out of the sea in the same general neighborhood, but this one does not exist.

It must have been quite a feat of engineering to build this thing. Helicopters were not really a thing in 1939. Igor Sikorsky made his first flight that year.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Weedeater Chorus

Weedeater Chorus

Crew of four guys with weedeaters making their annual pass through the swamp behind my house. Turn the volume up for the full effect. The guys are right near the center of the frame. You might be able to make them out if you go to full screen.

Cornfoot Road

Coming back from IKEA last night (which was closed, the only night of the week that it closes early), we took Cornfoot Road to avoid the traffic jam on Columbia. That was an eye opener. There is one big industrial establishment after another. In order, from East to West:

Boeing Paint Hangars at PDX
Looks like they aren't being used any more.

PDX Ground Run-up Enclosure
Looking at the map I notice a great big thing. It's the Ground Run-up Enclosure (GRE).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Google Search Console Report
This showed up in my email this morning. Looks like I won a contest of some sort, they awarded me a trophy after all. Okay, it's just an icon representing a trophy, but still, something nice, or least not bad.

I don't know what any of it means, and I'm pretty sure I don't care. I just checked my blogger stats and a ten year old post about Zimbabwe that has been in the top spot for years has been knocked out, so maybe Google finally got around to looking at how they were collecting these stats. I don't know where they are getting their referring pages though, none of them even mention me. The top referring page is three years old. I think there Google's stat collection is still a bit wonky.


I'm reading The five universal laws of human stupidity by Corinne Purtill and as I scroll down this combination of text and picture appears:

Stupidity leads to a new Mercedes
which I think is a perfect sequence, given my disdain for over-priced German vehicles.

This is probably due to my cheapskate attitude, which I undoubtedly got from my parents. It's not just expensive German cars I abhor, it's anything that carries a premium price tag based on some perceived superiority. Apple, Sony and Honda products all fall in the same category.

I have this attitude mostly because my upbringing doesn't allow me to spend money foolishly, and if you haven't squeezed ever penny of value out of a dollar, you're wasting money. If I had more money, I would relax a bit. Shoot, I have a bit more money and I have relaxed, but not enough that I would be willing to throw away money on a stupid Mercedes.

The big idea though, the one that I just recently realized, is that people will pay good money for services, services I would never buy because I can do it myself. The circular thought running around in my brain for the last 50 years has been that because I could take care of a problem myself, I would never pay for it, and since everybody else could likewise take care of their own problem, nobody else would pay for someone else to fix it either.

Call it the curse of over-competence. Of course, doing things for other people requires talking to them, and there are few people I enjoy talking to. I suspect that might be because I am too wrapped up with all the nonsense running around in my head. Between that and napping, I just don't have the time.

Wikipedia has a short article about Carlo M. Cipolla, the author of the originating essay. It seems be his primary claim to fame.

Via Indy Tom

Monday, December 2, 2019

Stupid Walgreens, Part 2

Filling my pill minder this morning and I run out of one of my drugs. I think I ordered refills last week, but did I really? So I go to and this is what I get:

Walgreens Message
What? Two hours after what? After I log on? Bozo on a pogo. Rx refill status is useless, let's just try the refill page.

Walgreens Error
Great. You know what happened? I'll bet I know. They put bureaucrats in charge of the system, and the one person who actually knew how the system worked got fed up with their bullshit and bailed. Now they have a bunch of clowns scrambling to find their shoes. Effing corporations.

P.S. Walgreens has appeared here at least a dozen times in the last nine years. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.


Map of Superfund sites as of October 2013. Red indicates currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed, green is deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up).
William Ruckelshaus, a big-time government bureaucrat, passed away a few days ago. He came to fame heading the EPA. Reading the Wikipedia article about him, I came across this quote:
I've had an awful lot of jobs in my lifetime, and in moving from one to another, have had the opportunity to think about what makes them worthwhile. I've concluded there are four important criteria: interest, excitement, challenge, and fulfillment. I've never worked anywhere where I could find all four to quite the same extent as at EPA. I can find interest, challenge, and excitement as [board chair of a company]. I do have an interesting job. But it is tough to find the same degree of fulfillment I found in the government. At EPA, you work for a cause that is beyond self-interest and larger than the goals people normally pursue. You're not there for the money, you're there for something beyond yourself.
At first, I thought this was great. His description of what makes a job worthwhile is spot on. And in general, I think the EPA is a good idea. Too many people were dumping really nasty shit all over the place. But when you start getting into cases, well, it gets a little fuzzy as to just what is 'nasty'.

He banned DDT, which I thought was good. Then I read that he thought global warming was a real problem and I realized that belief is double edged sword. If you believe in a cause, you will fight for it, regardless of whether your cause has merit or not. Of course, the deciding whether a cause has merit or not is also generally a matter of belief.

I try to avoid the global warming issue because the discussion has become completely political. The fight is now between true believers on both sides. I doubt you could find a set of data that both sides would agree on. I suspect that people are arguing about this issue, not because this issue is of paramount importance, but because people like to fight and since we aren't engaged in a great big military conflict (also known as war), they look around for lesser issues to fight about.

Via Indy Tom

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Lost in Translation

Batwoman with Molotov cocktail
DC Comics posted this image, the Chinese Commies complained, so DC pulled it. Hey, if it tweaks the commies' noses, I'm all for it, so here it is.

Via Monday Evening

Younger son has been on vacation, so we've been working on his house, which has been consuming my time and energy, which is why I haven't been posting much lately.

Childish Gambino Christmas Special

Childish Gambino Christmas Special

Second good thing I found on reddit today.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Blue Marble

The Blue Marble

Yet another Rube Goldberg type marble race track. This one uses some tricks I haven't seen before. As time goes by it seems that people are devising ever more complex arrangements. I wonder what we will see in ten years.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Automation & Big Government

The Hunger Games Society
I had a revelation: automation lead to big government. Automation has lead to a few people making large amounts of money while putting large numbers of other people out of work. Naturally, people wondered what to about this largess, and simultaneously they wondered what are we going to do with all these unemployed people? I know! We'll form a committee to study the issue. And that's how the government grew so big that it took over our lives.

P.S. I dunno nothing about David Icke (the pic and link), but I needed a pic and this one sufficed, so here it is.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Left: The Malaysian lawyer and activist Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother was on board MH370. Right: Blaine Gibson, an American who has mounted a search for debris from the airplane. (William Langewiesche)
William Langewiesche has a story in The Atlantic that summarizes what we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which isn't much. He also relates some theories about what happened, all of which he dismisses, except for one, which is pretty grizzly.

The most interesting part is about Blaine Gibson, who had no connection with the flight or the investigation, but took it upon himself to go searching for bits of wreckage washing up on Indian Ocean beaches. Surprisingly he found a bunch. Well, several pieces anyway.

William has nothing good to say about the government of Malaysia, unless you consider, corrupt, incompetent, morons as 'good'.

Via Posthip Scott


California Bob reports:
So now I'm apparently one of those feeble guys who can barely navigate the DMV to get a driver's license.
My license expired in February. Now they have these "Real ID" licenses that are supposed to be de rigeur for air travel, so I figured I'd get one of those. But they require a trip to DMV. But when I got online to make a DMV appt, the nearest appts were 3 months out.
Long story short my license expired, and I forestalled, but finally got an appt and went to DMV today.  I filled out the app online, collected all my paperwork (passport, SS card, 2 proofs of address, etc), put it in a folder and went to DMV.
When I got there, found I had to read a vision chart.  I should have anticipated this, but didn't, and only had my crappy glasses with me.  Fortunately I passed the eye test.
Then there was a mysterious problem with the computer. Lady called her associate over, and it was determined that the problem was my license was expired for so many months. That means I have to take the written exams -- car + motorcycle.  Ah jeez.
I go to the terminal and take the exams.  Pass the car exam but the MC exam has inscrutable questions about towing trailers and "slow, tight turns" and I fail.  Lady at desk tells me I can take it again (or come back).  I sit down and read the DMV MC primer on my phone.  Back to the terminal, more weirdo questions about "if your throttle sticks..."  Anyway I pass this time.
Something at the end of the test indicates to me that I could have skipped a few questions with no penalty, which I wish I had figured out the first time.
At the end, a victory, my license is being processed and should be here soon.  However I am now depressed, b/c I thought I had prepared pretty well, but only defeated the DMV by the skin of my teeth. Could easily have gone the other way.

some useless information supposed to fire my imagination

The Rolling Stones Satisfaction (I Cant Get No)

Organized retail crime costs retailers nearly $778,000 per $1 billion in sales . . . (don't follow the link, it's crap).

That is less than one-tenth of one percent. The stores could save more by renegotiating the rate that the credit card companies suck off the top.

Note they are talking about organized retail crime, which I suspect means traveling gangs who swoop in and grab a bunch of high dollar items before heading off to the next town. They aren't talking about shoplifting.

Typical mass media, babbling about a small problem that it going to get people stirred up, but isn't going to have a big effect, other than fuck up the lives of people who get stirred up and decide to do something about it and end up getting arrested for assault or worse.

There have always been thieves, and if they are stealing from big box stores, then at least they are not breaking into people's houses. Mostly it's a matter of belief / religion. On one side you have the good citizens who believe theft is bad and who have enough money that they can buy what they need. On the other, we have those don't feel like they are part of society and are going to ignore social conventions in order to get what they feel they deserve. If might be that they have been expelled from society, and it wouldn't have to be for bad behavior, it could be something as common as getting laid off. Or it could be that they have rejected the position that society has offered them. Could be a good reason, or it could be a personality defect.

Via Iaman

P.S. I always thought the line from the song was 'fry my imagination', but I suppose that's what you would get from firing it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By ? Large

Reading a post about the possible coming attack on Taiwan by Communist China, I notice the phrase 'by in large' which gets my attention because I have always thought of it as 'by and large' but when I say it, it comes out sounding like 'by en large' which could easily be interpreted as 'by in large' even though that's not what I meant. Anyway, it's an old sailing term and means 'generally'.

Monday, November 18, 2019

US Aircraft Carriers

USS Shangri-La
Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Shangri-La, circa 1962, somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea. From the film - Flying Clipper, (1962). With narration by Burl Ives.

The USA has been flying supersonic aircraft from carriers consistently for over 60 years. No one else's record comes anywhere close.

The Grumman F-11 Tiger was the first supersonic jet fighter to operate from an aircraft carrier. They started in 1956. Of the aircraft in the video, the Skyhawk is notable (in my mind) because Argentina had a bunch of them. The other jet fighter in the video is the F-8 Crusader. I seem to recall having a model of one when I was a kid. It wasn't a particularly good-looking aircraft, but it was certainly capable. John Glenn made the first super-sonic cross country flight in a Crusader in 1957. Along the way he refueled from propeller driven AJ Savage tankers. He would have had to slow down to hook up with the tankers since they weren't able to go that fast. I suspect no one has tried to perform in-flight refueling at super-sonic speeds.

The photo reconnaissance version of the Crusader was sent to take some pictures of the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis. The F-101 Voodoo was also sent. The Voodoo was a land based airplane and was not designed to work with aircraft carriers.

The Crusader had 'variable-incidence' wings, which means the wing was mounted on a pivot so that the angle of attack could be changed to make it possible for the pilot to see where he was going and allow the aircraft to fly slow enough to land on a carrier.

Watching the video, I noticed that right at the beginning of the catapult launch, a flap across the big air inlet under the nose opens up. Didn't find any explanation for it.

US Aircraft Carriers

At the start of WW2, we had eight aircraft carriers. During the course of the war, we built another 26. After the war, construction slowed down for a few years, but then in 1955 it picked up again and we've been building them pretty consistently ever since. We currently have eleven aircraft carriers. At a million dollars a day each, it's costing the average American family of four about a dollar a week to keep them all running.

I haven't figured out how to get the date to display across the bottom of the above chart, so I made up a little table to show the corresponding dates.

Correspondence of Days & Dates

Via daily timewaster

More aircraft carrier posts here.