Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Friday, January 31, 2020


Honda Hobbit
Tuesday we went over to Scooter Swap Shop to pick up Jack's 1985 Honda Moped. He's had it since it was new and periodically it needs a tune up. It doesn't seem like the kind of bike a retired engineer would choose, but he's had it forever and I guess he's gotten kind of attached to it. Plus we both come from the drive-it-until-it-won't-drive-no-more school of motor vehicle operation.

Scooter Swap Shop
The shop is a hole in the wall kind of place, but they had a couple of interesting machines.

One fancy, full dress scooter in the back and
a stripped down custom job in front
The shop truck is a right-hand drive Japanese mini truck that is getting a Hayabusa motorcycle engine
Coincidentally, I came across this video today.

Motorcycle Engine in a Car - Here's Why and How

P.S. The photo of the Honda Moped (at the top of this post) confused me a bit. When I saw the original on Wikipedia, I thought the vertical white streaks above the handlebars were some kind defect in the image. Since there was nothing of import above the handlebars, I cropped the top section of the image off. It wasn't until I saw it here that I realized the white streaks were reflections in the windshield. Now that I've seen the windshield, I can't unsee it. Oh, well, Jack's moped doesn't have a windshield.

NSA Security Posters form the 1950's & 60's

We are doing all we can to liberate those people who are still under the spell of this religious opiate. - Nikita Krushchev
GOVERNMENTATTIC.ORG has a PDF file of NSA Security Posters form the 1950's & 60's. I looked through them and I picked out a few that piqued my interest. Several of them conflate Christianity and Freedom, which I thought was kind of interesting being as our government is supposed to be free of religious influence (3rd amendment in the Bill of Rights). Then there were my parents who were pretty much avowed atheists. My mother's favorite argument was that religion caused more wars and killed more people than any other cause. Could this have been before Stalin's killing of zillions came to light? Let's pretend it was, she was my mother after all. And here we have Krushchev echoing the Communist party line regarding religion.

If you are going to have a functioning society, you need a basic set of beliefs that everyone can agree on. Communists had communism. The West has Christianity, which somehow includes Judaism. The Mid-East has Mohammedanism. And it's not religion that leads to war, it's just the nature of people. We have been fighting wars for tens if not hundreds of millennia. Belief systems just give leaders a way to get everyone motivated to move in the same direction, which is kind of crucial when you go to war.

Via Schneier on Security

The man who never returned

The Kingston Trio - M.T.A.

A real blast from the past. The song was written in 1949, the Kingston Trio recorded it ten years later. My folks had an album with this song when I was a kid. I always knew it as 'The man who never returned'.

Via  Borepatch

The Peril of Learned Lumber

Alexander Pope by Michael Dahl, circa 1727
JMSmith has a fine post about reading. He opens with this quote:
“The bookish blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head.” - Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism (1711)
From the introduction to Wikipedia's article about Pope:
The Rape of the Lock, perhaps the poet's most famous poem, appeared first in 1712, followed by a revised and enlarged version in 1714. When Lord Petre forcibly snipped off a lock from Miss Arabella Fermor's head (the "Belinda" of the poem), the incident gave rise to a high-society quarrel between the families. With the idea of allaying this, Pope treated the subject in a playful and witty mock-heroic epic. The narrative poem brings into focus the onset of acquisitive individualism and conspicuous consumption, where purchased goods assume dominance over moral agency.
. . .
In his career as a satirist, Pope made his share of enemies as the critics, politicians, and certain other prominent figures felt the sting of his sharpwitted satires. Some were so virulent, that Pope even carried pistols at one point while walking his dog.
Gutenberg has a copy of The Rape of the Lock. Be warned, it is 750 lines. I dunno maybe that's just me, I'm not much for poetry.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Stupid Funny

#1509; In which a Target is missed
Dadburn whining whiners, but it still got a chuckle out of me. I suspect it was the long setup that made punch line funny.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Short Story

I met a man on the roadside with a bucket of onions. He told me was waiting for someone to come along with their own bucket of onions. He hoped that he could finally finish the onion war his great grandfather started back when onions were called horse apples. I told him that onions were never called horse apples. He asked where’d I leave my bucket of onions. I said all I have is this bucket of rocks. - Ross


The Truth Behind the Great G36 Controversy

The G36 is evidently the rifle the German army uses. I've never heard of it, much less heard any of the controversy surrounding it. The reason I am posting this is that Ian does a great job of explaining the situation and how it became a such a hot-button issue. Good things to remember next time you read a headline that predicts the end of the world.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Razzle Dazzle

B-24D Liberator lead assembly ship 'Barber Bob' of 93rd Bomber Group, US 328th Bomb Squadron based on RAF Hardwick, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom, 1943
Yes, it looks like a clown car, and no, it isn't some kind of wacky camouflage. During WW2 in Europe, they gave some aircraft high visibility paint schemes. These airplanes were called assembly ships and were used to guide other aircraft into formation for their mission. Once the contingent of combat aircraft were assembled and on their way, these high visibility marker aircraft returned to base.

Only posted this because I saw another B-24 on daily timewaster and I wondered what in the heck it was. And because it was a B-24.

Wonderful World of IKEA

Log Home from IKEA
Because Roberta X. Also because we have been installing IKEA kitchen cabinets in John's house for weeks. We only have three or four hundred more screws to put in.

The Vasari Corridor

The Vasari Corridor: The World's Least Secret Secret Passageway
What do you do if you're the 16th-Century Duke of Florence and you need a way of getting between your two palaces without being seen by anyone? You build a 1km passageway 3 floors up in the air, of course... - YouTube blurb
I just came across Tim, The Tim(e) Traveler, and he's pretty entertaining. His specialty seems to be going to strange, obscure places and giving us a bit of history.

The Duke was a Medici and we already know they were a big deal in Florence. Also enemies of the Borgia.

Map of the Vasari Corridor
Tim's route starts at the Palazzo Vecchio on the left and follows the corridor along to the Palazzo Pitti on the right.

You can sort of see the corridor on Google Maps, but all the roofs on all the buildings in Florence are red tile, so it can be a little difficult to pick out.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Nobel retractions

Nobel Prize
Stolen entire from Peter Attia
Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer at Caltech, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Arnold received the Nobel Prize for the directed evolution of enzymes, a method used in protein engineering to mimic (and speed up) the process of natural selection to manipulate, identify, and design proteins that have broad implications and can be used for a variety of applications. Her seminal  paper , which first demonstrated this method, was published in 1993 and was a culmination of work at Caltech which started in the late 1980s, 30 years prior to receiving the Nobel Prize. 

On January 2nd, Arnold made headlines again after announcing on Twitter that she and her co-authors  retracted  a  paper  that was published in the prestigious journal  Science  in May of 2019, 7 months after winning the Nobel Prize. “For my first work-related tweet of 2020, I am totally bummed to announce that we have retracted last year's paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams,” she  wrote . “The work has not been reproducible.”

Retracting a published scientific article means the author(s) made a mistake and the article shouldn’t have been published. Some people may be thinking,  Geez, I bet the Nobel Committee wishes they can take that Prize back and give it to someone who doesn’t make these kinds of mistakes.

But think again. If I were part of the committee, I’d be saying the exact opposite:  Thank god we picked such a credible recipient of highest honor in the field!  Making mistakes and being wrong is part of the process in science. The problem is when you make mistakes and you either don’t know you’re making mistakes or you don’t admit mistakes once you realize them or when they have been pointed out. While the irony isn’t lost on me that Arnold’s mistake was due to  admittedly  being distracted by “all the Nobel Prize hoopla,” she later realized the error in her lab and was proactive in reporting it. Bad work slipping through the cracks is not a good thing, but Arnold’s admission and retraction is the right thing to do, and hopefully inspires others to report errors. (This particular case may be a coauthor’s scientific misconduct rather than an honest mistake. Fooling yourself and being wrong is a natural phenomenon in science. Fooling others and acting in a way that willfully compromises the integrity of scientific research is not.)

Even the best scientists make mistakes. Arnold is not the first Nobel Laureate to retract a paper. There are  several others  who issued retractions. The best scientists are the best scientists in large part because of their openness to admit and share all of the errors they’re discovering along the way. Open failure is a path to progress. The merit of a scientist is not perfection, it’s the integrity you display when confronted with errors. Arnold herself may have put it better in a follow-up  Tweet  to her retraction announcement: “My motto, shared for 29 years with my three children:  ‘I'm not perfect, but I'm good enough.’ Works for me. Seems to work for a lot of us.”

Keep this in mind, please, when you consume scientific information. Unlike politics, where changing your mind or admitting mistakes is tantamount to career suicide—a sign of weakness—in science, it’s actually a sign of integrity and high-level thinking. Keep the retractions coming.

- Peter
There have been a couple of times in the last few years when I thought I had solved a difficult problem. It wasn't just a thought, it was a feeling that I really had found a solution. It turned out, days or weeks later, that I hadn't, but for a while there I was convinced that I had found the answer.

Where did this feeling come from? I don't know, but I suspect it was the same feeling I got when I solved a math problem in school. We started with addition, worked our way through basic arithmetic, algegra, geometry and eventually calculus. When I had solved a problem, I knew I had found the answer.

However, difficulties will arise when you feel you have the correct answer, but your answer is actually wrong. I hate it when that happens.

One of the problems I thought I had solved was the Eternity II puzzle. Another was a design for a vastly more efficient steam engine. There may have been others, but those are the only ones that I recall at the moment.

Via Iaman

A website of untranslatable words

I enjoy browsing this website of 500+ words that don’t translate, because I’m always intrigued by the concepts I had no idea existed, like “qarrtsiluni,” a North Alaskan Inupiatun word for sitting in the darkness, waiting for inspiration to strike you, or “ razbliuto,” a Russian word to describe the feeling for someone you used to love but no longer do, or “vellichor,” which I think may be made up but is a much needed word to address “the strange wistfulness of used bookstores.” It’s weird how once I learn a word for something I was hardly aware of before that I can instantly recall feeling it in the past. I would like to know the word for that. — CD
Untranslatable uses Eunoia for their name, the same as Stu Savory. I expect an epic flame war to erupt any decade now.

Via Cool Tools

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

Weapon of the Year

Bernie Solo and his Zombie Apocalypse Weapon Prop
Paging through Feedly and this image pops up. What the heck is that thing? It looks cool. And dangerous. Follow the link and I find this video:


So it's not a real weapon, at least not any more than zombies are. Yes, it is horribly dangerous. You wouldn't want to leave it where, well, anybody could get a hold of it. The thing is liable to kill anyone who touches it.

The techniques he uses to make it are the interesting part. He has created this machine out of an amalgamation of tools and fittings commonly available at your local retail store  and a bunch of custom made parts that are created using digital technology. The metal parts are all cut out of sheet steel by a laser cutter house, and all the plastic parts are made using 3D-printing.

I do wonder how much time this project consumed.

Quote of the Day

Ivory Tower by OfTheDunes
Banning weapons is the most white privilege idea ever. Rich liberals scoffing at the idea that a person might need to defend their own life is a tower so ivory you can't look at it in direct sunlight. It's the personal safety equivalent of "just have the maid do it." - Caleb Howe

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Adding Time

Google can do all kinds of tricks from the search bar. It can convert most any kind of measurement to any other, like acres to square meters or liters to acre-feet. It can handle almost any kind of mathematical expression, like 2+2 or 975.035^0.5 (the caret (^) means raise to a power, a power of 0.5 means take the square root). It even has a timer function. Simply enter timer.

But it won't add time. Looking back over the 8 videos about the Hitachi excavator I wondered how much time I had spent. Being a numbers kind of guy, I could add them up myself, but I thought I would give Google's Spreadsheet a try.  Type the times in a text editor, one time per line, copy them, open a spreadsheet and paste and the numbers should all appear in a column. That part worked fine for me. If it doesn't for you it's probably because you forgot to sacrifice a potato to the gods of the copybook headings.

I tried adding the times using the sum function, but it didn't work. Digging around a bit I found that times can be formatted in a number of ways, and one of those is Duration. However, when I format the numbers that way, it turns my minutes and seconds into hours and minutes. Divide all my times by 60, store the results in an adjacent column, apply the sum function to that column, and presto: 1:18:40.

Actually, I could have just applied the sum function to the original times, it would work just as well. You just need to drop the :00 off the end to get 78:40.

You could type the numbers directly into the spreadsheet, but I like to use the text editor. I can use a small window for the text editor, put it in front of the browser window and I can usually position the text editor window somewhere that it doesn't obscure the stuff I want to copy. The spreadsheet had all kinds of headings and borders and stuff, so a minimum size window is still pretty big.

Excavator Resurrection

Abandoned Excavator left in woods for 16 years- Will it start ??

I'm not quite sure what the attraction here is, but I watched all eight videos in the playlist. Possibly because it looks a lot like my life 40 years ago.

Via The Feral Irishman

March Of The Poozers

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT - March Of The Poozers (Lyric Video)

I hesitated before posting this because the critters floating around in space are just a little gross, not something you would normally share in polite company. But the tune is great and video is pretty funny. I mean, it's a war song, but how threatening is the name Poozers? Kind of like 'we're going to war, so send in the clowns'.

Big Bear Bald Eagle Cam

Big Bear Bald Eagle Cam

Via Posthip Scott

No More Wind In My Hair

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Le Mans Speciale
Cool old car, but what got me is this line from Wikipedia:
The car featured a streamlined coupé body at a time when Le Mans racers were almost always open cars.
because just a couple of  years earlier Howard Hughes was going 350 MPH in his open cockpit H-1 racing plane.

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 supercharged engine
The picture of the engine is from an earlier model, but it's basically the same: straight 8 engine with dual overhead camshafts. But what's the Prancing Horse logo doing there? I thought that was a Ferrari thing. Seems it goes back to WW1.

Francesco Baracca and his SPAD S.XIII
The prancing horse is from the Baracca family coat of arms:
Enzo Ferrari was a racing driver for Alfa Romeo in the earlier decades of the twentieth century. Following one of his wins at the Targa Florio, he met Francesco Baracca's parents, who told him that their son used to paint a prancing horse on his airplane and suggested that if Ferrari painted the horse on his cars, he would have good luck. Ferrari took their advice and started to use the black Prancing Horse on a yellow background (yellow being one of the colours of the city flag of his native Modena) as the official Ferrari logo.
Initially, all Scuderia Ferrari's cars were manufactured by Alfa Romeo, but after the foundation of Auto Avio Costruzioni (later known as "Ferrari"), Ferrari began to use his Ferrari cars.
 Via daily timewaster

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

KQRZ Radio

Cleo's Mood/Cleo's Back - Jr. Walker and the Allstars
Dantz Music Studio

Heard this tune on KQRZ driving back from the Skyline Restaurant yesterday. Didn't know what it was, so I inquired and Ken was kind enough to let me know.

Update July 2022 replaced missing video.

Switched Outlet

How to Wire a Switched Outlet

Saturday, John & I wired up the disposal in his kitchen. It wasn't too tough, just run a cord to the outlet. The whole outlet was switched, but we wanted one side always on for the instant hot water dispenser, which meant we needed to break off the little tab on the hot side that connects the two sides of the outlet. There was already a hot wire in the outlet box, so we all we had to do was connect it.

It wasn't very difficult, or rather no more of a pain-in-the-watuzzi than any electrical work ever is, but that evening after sitting watching TV for a while, I couldn't get up. I had a muscle spasm in my back that made it almost impossible to move. I thought it was very weird since I hadn't strained anything. Here it is four days later and it is nowhere near as bad, but it is still noticeable and is still restricting my freedom of movement.

P.S. When did white become the default color for outlets? When I was a kid, everything was ivory. Now all new installations are white. And why did they change? And how much longer will we be wiring all rooms in a house with 110VAC? LED's are taking over as are battery powered appliances and tools. You go to Home Depot to look for a power tool and the default selection for everything is battery powered. You have to dig around to find tools that run off of power from the wall.


Came across this
Didn't know what it meant. Google Translate couldn't help. Poking around I find that these symbols are runes, and this page by Xah Lee can translate them. Translated, it comes out like this
The left angle bracket could be a 'c', the 'f' looking rune might be an 'a', and the 'H' is an 'h'.

 Via Unwanted Blog

James Rivington

Portrait of James Rivington by Ezra Ames
Rumor has it that some people use the names of historical figures as pseudonyms on the internet. James Rivington is one such figure.

James appeared to be the most loyal supporter of Kind George during the American Revolution. He was actually a spy working for George Washington. (Hey! George versus George, never noticed that before.) The role he played as a loyalist generated a great deal of antipathy amongst the American patriots.

John Carroll Lynch as James Rivington in the TV series TURN
The reminds me of a movie we saw about a French woman cozying up a Nazi officer in Paris during WW2. She was in fact a member of the resistance, but she played her role as a friend to the Nazis so well that when Paris was finally liberated, the locals ganged up on her and killed her.

Zone Rouge

When you imagine France and its scenic countryside, you might think of the picturesque villages, vineyards a plenty and endless rolling green hills to drive through on a blissful summer road trip. But there’s one corner of this scenic country that no one has been allowed to enter for nearly a century, known as the “Zone Rouge” (the red zone).
Pictured above is an artist’s impression of the forsaken territory, originally covering more than 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq miles) in the years following the Great War. Today, around 100km2 (roughly the size of Paris), is still strictly prohibited by law from public entry and agricultural use because of an impossible amount of human remains and unexploded chemical munitions yet to be recovered from the battlefields of both world wars.
Step inside the real “No Go-Zone”…

Charles 'One Weird Trick' Martel

Charles Martel (C688-741)
Defeating The Caliph's Army Under Abd-Er-Rahman At Tours France 732
Borepatch has a few cogent words to say about campaigning.

P.S. Charles Martel has appeared here before.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Politics, Propaganda & Economics

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Country
Funny how the climate change scolds make a great deal of noise about CO2 emissions, but nobody ever talks about the elephant in the room, i.e. China, the big blue sector in the above chart.

I don't know if CO2 emissions are affecting the climate, and I don't really care, because I haven't heard of a plan that has a chance in hell of making any difference. Except maybe nuclear power, and that is liable to take decades before it gains any traction. People are going to keep burning coal, oil and natural gas as long as it is the cheapest power source available.

What I do know is that big companies are making big money selling alternative energy sources like solar, wind and ethanol, and any time there is money to be made there is going to be advertising. Companies that are investing big money in these projects are not going to skimp on advertising, and advertising is going to involve conventional advertising, social media campaigns, lobbying government agencies, hiring celebrity spokespersons and even manufacturing celebrity spokespersons.

All the reports we get in the news about alternative energy sources come from, either directly or indirectly, from companies that have a financial stake in it. The whole point is to generate enough support so that our elected representatives will pass tax laws that are favorable to their enterprise. CO2 emissions are just an excuse.

Quote of the Quote

President Donald Trump meets with European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. Evan Vucci, Associated Press
Observing Hermann quotes Donald Trump:
“This is not a time for pessimism. This is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action.” 
and then follows up with this:
I would translate that into German but German just doesn’t have that kind of vocabulary.

Howard Hughes H-1 Racer

The Aviator | 'H-1 Racer Plane’ - Leonardo DiCaprio

I saw this movie when it came out back in 2004. It was pretty great. I saw this clip on YouTube and I think 'that's a pretty cool airplane'. And then I notice that in some scenes the aircraft has an open cockpit and in others it has a canopy, so I have to investigate.

Jim Wright 'Hughes H-1 Racer' replica speed record attempt

Seems that one Jim Wright of Cottage Grove Oregon built a replica of Hughes H-1 Racer, and the movie makers were planing on using it in the film, but then Jim, while flying back from the annual EAA fly-in in Oshkosh Wisconsin, crashed and died.

Half-scale model of H-1 Racer at El Mirage
Movie production is already underway, and the H-1 is a featured player, so they have a problem. Enter Joe Bok with his R/C aircraft company. He puts together a half-scale H-1 and they use that for the flying scenes. I don't know what they used for the taxi scenes. An H-1 mockup put together by the prop department?

P.S. I just put it together that Howard was flying an open cockpit airplane at 350 miles per hour. That's just nuts.

Monday, January 20, 2020


1917 - Official Trailer [HD]

Soldier, take this message to Colonel McKenzie. It's not far, just a few miles, but this short journey is fraught with peril, as you might expect, being as they are in the middle of a war zone. Production values are fabulous. Endless trenches, endless mud, endless destruction which, if we are to believe the reports from those who were there, is an accurate description of WW1 battlegrounds. The movie is a thriller and an accurate depiction of a slice of life of a WW1 soldier.

Here's a short summary from Wikipedia, for those of you who want to nail down the story line:
It is based in part on an account told to [writer & producer Sam] Mendes by his paternal grandfather, Alfred Mendes, and chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are given a mission to call off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.
There are a couple of scenes where a little civilization intrudes. In one our hero, Will Scofield, encounters a woman and a baby in a bombed out town and recites the Edward Lear poem The Jumblies to the baby.

In another, when Will is close to completing his mission, he comes across a large group of soldiers waiting in a copse of trees listening to one of their own sing a Wayfaring Stranger.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Remember American Motors?

24 Hours Of Nurburgring
The Ultimate Challenge

In 1979 American Motors took a couple of Spirits to Germany. They didn't win overall, but they did win their class. Road & Track has the story. I've heard of the Nurburgring but I didn't know they ran a 24 race there. They are still running it. The castle shown at the beginning of the video is near the race track, shoot it might even be inside it.

I think I stopped paying attention to the racing scene after Ford won LeMans back in 1966. I mean, we'd climbed to the top of the heap, where else was there to go? Oh, right, the moon. We did that 3 years later.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Painting of the Day

The Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt & Edward Robert Hughes 1889
Came across another painting of The Lady of Shalott that was used to illustrate a post about Moll Flanders. It intrigued me enough to go Googling. The lady inspired a number of paintings, but this is the one that caught my eye. Reminds me of a girl I knew / woman I know.

Monster House Hill

7932 NW Hawkins Blvd , Portland, OR 97229
Last year we spent some time looking at houses closer in to Portland. Mostly we were looking in Beaverton and the West Slope, but then we stumbled over a couple of auctions up in Forest Heights, a tony neighborhood full of giant, million dollar houses. The starting bid was something like $300K, so I went and took a look. There was a little water damage inside, nothing major. It looked like someone had left a door open during a rainstorm or two (or three) and not bothered to clean up the water that blew in. So I put in a bid. I didn't get the house, I was quickly outbid by other people (or bots, who knows?), but the winning bid didn't get the house either. Shortly thereafter it was up for auction again. I didn't bother bidding this time, the agency handling the sale, Leslie Edwards in Atlanta Georgia, obviously wasn't paying attention. It sold again, or rather it didn't, and now it's up for auction again.

It makes me wonder what's going on Leslie Edward's office. I suspect it's a holdover from a few years ago when the housing bubble burst. Banks were unwilling to 'mark to market' and that reluctance may still be coloring their indecision making process. They could eat the loss incurred if they sell this house at auction for half of the original loan value, but OMG, that might lead to the domino effect of a bunch of houses being sold for low prices and that could have an impact on the bank's bottom line and the president-of-said-bank's annual bonus, and we can't have that. I can just hear the scuttlebutt in bank's loan administration center: "George unloaded a house at a big loss last week, why can't I get rid of this albatross hanging around my neck? Screw it, I'm selling it for whatever. I'm tired of this bullshit."

Meanwhile, bank president's all over the country are all doing this to a lesser or greater extent, just gambling that the local prosecutor has got his hands so full with other problems that he isn't going to get around to prosecuting upstanding citizens.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Stupid Phones

Samsung Galaxy Smartphone
I have a Samsung Galaxy I got from Tracfone a couple of months ago and it has been pretty reliable, but now it has developed some problems.

Problem #1: Right around Christmas I needed to make a run to the airport, so I asked Google Maps to give me a route. Always before it responded almost immediately. This time I got bupkis. I waited for several minutes, and then tried again. Never got any response. I just tried it and this time I got a response in seconds.

Problem #2: Voice to text doesn't work any more. Used to work very well and I used it for everything, well anyplace it was available. But then I tried to turn off the verbal announcements ("Here's what I found") and now the voice to text doesn't work anymore. I've been in settings and have tried turning several things on and off, but it hasn't helped. Voice to text still doesn't work.

Problem #3: Can't upload my photos to Google Photos anymore. Actually, they do get uploaded, it just takes days.

Problem #4: Can't send or receive photos using the messaging App.

Are Android phones junk and can't be trusted to do their job? Are Google and Tracfone having some kind of tiff? Are Apple phones any better? Or are all smart phones like this? Is the reason people spend so much time staring at their phones that they are trying to get the stupid things to work properly?

P.S. I might have an answer to #4. Dennis tells me that Apple uses their own messaging system. It apparently works very well inside the Apple universe but not outside. Messages from his family, who all use Apple phones, sometimes take a day to reach him. Apparently, if you are not drinking Apple flavored Kool-Aid, Apple just doesn't care.

Update February 2020 figured out what the problem was.

Electric Cars

1914 Detroit Electric
No matter how much I hate them, they just won't go away. Iaman pointed out at lunch the other day that the savings on gasoline will be enough to make your monthly car payment. That's great, but that made me wonder how much does it cost to charge the battery in an electric car? I mean energy is energy, and the electric company doesn't take promises of rainbows in lieu of cash. So I asked Google "how much does it cost to charge an electric car" and this is the response.
The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents per kWh. Therefore, the average person driving the average EV 15,000 miles per year pays about $540 per year to charge it.
For a gasoline powered car that gets 20 miles per gallon, driving it 1,250 miles per month (15,000 miles a year) when gasoline costs $3 a gallon is going to cost you roughly $2,400 year, or $200 a month. So the savings on fuel ($200-$45=$155) won't make your monthly car payment ($650 for a five year loan on a $35,000 Tesla 3 or Chevy Volt), but it will make a dent.

Electric cars use about 0.3kWh per mile, or about 4 cents a mile, so you are going to save some money on fuel, but you still have all your other expenses like insurance, tires and depreciation. Maintenance is an unknown. The battery will last for years, but it will be expensive to replace, about the same as replacing the engine in a gasoline powered vehicle.

The linked article makes a pretty good economic case for buying an electric car, which brings us the last objection I can come up with - charging. It takes time, and charging stations are few and far between, other than your house. So now I'm wondering could you carry one of those little portable Honda generators in your trunk to charge your car in an emergency? Well, sort of:
For a recent video on the BMW plug-in car, GadgetReview rented a generator at Home Depot, attached the i3's charge cord, and left to see if this improvised method could recover any range. Sure enough, after a half hour of charging in a parking lot, the i3 had gained four miles of range. - Green Car Reports
A half hour to gain 4 miles? Okay then, that's not really worth the effort or expense. How much current is flowing in a typical home charging setup? 30 Amps on a 220 Volt circuit seems to be the number, which is like the power needed by an electric oven or an electric water heater. Multiply those two numbers and you get 6.6 kilowatts, so to get the 30 kilowatt-hours we need to drive 100 miles, the car will need to be plugged in for 4 to 5 hours.

Since the economics point towards electric cars, I thought I would check on how much a used one would cost. I bought a couple of new cars 20 years ago, but I'm not doing that anymore. Prices on used Tesla Model 3's seem be higher than the list price. Could this be an inverse symptom of the Trump Derangement Syndrome?

When I was looking for a picture, none of the electric cars really stood out. I guess that should be expected since they are reducing the car to an appliance, and it's hard for me to get excited about appliance styling.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


MY SASSY GIRL 엽기적인 그녀 Ep 10: Joo Won & Oh Yeon Seo's First Kiss [ENG]

Another Korean historical drama. This one is a little short on history, though someone who is fluent in Korean might be able to pick out some clues that would tell you the era. It's not too old because some people are using chairs, and I suspect that didn't happen before the Europeans showed up. No firearms, which is kind of odd because those came with the Europeans as well. But we aren't too concerned about the history here. We are here to watch boy-girl interactions, and they are amusing.

We've watched several of these Asian historical dramas, some are from Korea, some from China, and the plot lines are fairly similar. We watch them because the lead characters are attractive, their clothes are made of acres of fabric, and the buildings are fabulous. I think the hook that keeps us interested is that there is always a bad guy plotting some kind of underhanded skull drudgery, and since the subtitles are invariably weak, we have to piece together what is going on. So it's a romantic comedy with a bonus: a challenge to unravel the thread of mystery.

RIP Syd Mead

Art by Syd Mead, music Steve Roach "The Passing Time"

Syd Mead (July 18, 1933 – December 30, 2019 ) was a prolific and influential American "visual futurist", industrial designer and a neofuturistic concept artist. He is best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron.

“There are more people in the world who make things than there are people who think of things to make.” —  Syd Mead

I don't recall hearing his name before, but his work sure is memorable.

Official website


I picked up a copy of Willamette Week, a free, wacky, Portland tabloid. Amongst all the dreck there is usually a gem. This one is from Dr. Know.
Recently, I was nearly run over by an oblivious driver. Ecological considerations aside, wouldn't I personally be safer if I chose to drive instead of walk? Or should I consider my willingness to be a pedestrian fatality statistic the best way to serve my city?—E.P.
Your question, E., balances the narrow self-interest of the individual against the greater good of society in a way that might be well-illuminated by Kant's concept of the Categorical Imperative. That said, I'm probably not the best person to explore that with you, given that I barely remembered to write a column at all this week.
Indeed, it's this kind of thing that makes me wonder whether I might actually be in some kind of institution, with a journalistic "career" that consists of scribbling phrases like "DOOKIE! LOL" on paper towels and having passionate arguments about comma placement with a fire extinguisher.
In any case, you're correct in your suspicion that, mile for mile, you are more likely to meet with a fatal accident while walking than while driving—but it's still not very likely.
Also, before we start slagging on pedestrian travel as a George Romero-esque bloodbath, we should note that walking brings benefits that mitigate its risks.  A study published in the BMJ found that people who walked six miles a week reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.
But back to the bloodbath: Generalized statistics for the Western world show about one accidental death for every 17 million pedestrian miles traveled. The figure for motorists is around 200 million miles, so driving is, in this sense, a little over 10 times safer.
However, the average pedestrian's speed is only around 2.8 mph. The average motorist's speed—as in the total number of miles traveled per hour behind the wheel, including traffic, stoplights, pulling over to screw around with your phone, etc.—is surprisingly difficult to find, but it doesn't strain credulity to imagine a figure on the order of 25 to 30 miles per hour, if not more. Thus, in terms of chance of dying per hour spent traveling, driving versus walking is probably very close to a wash.
Of course, airline travel—even on Delta—leaves both of these in the dust. The moral of the story: If you have a chance to catch a commercial flight to the liquor store, ditch the land travel and take it.
Driving in downtown Portland is more akin to navigating a parking lot than traveling. You only average about 3 MPH and no matter where you want to go, you can't get there without making a dozen turns and going around the block at least twice.

Germantown road on the weekends isn't much better. The road cuts through Forest Park and there are several wide spots along the way where people park their cars before they trek off into the woods. There are always a few cars there even on days like today when it's cold and wet, but it gets crowded on weekends. Mostly these don't cause any problem, but occasionally someone will attempt to walk along the road and that is never a good idea. It's a two lane asphalt road with a double yellow line down the middle and white 'fog' lines along the edge. The pavement extends about a foot past the fog line. After that you are in the ditch or falling down the hill.

John and I came down this road one Saturday. We come around a corner and encounter a fitness nut running up the road on this narrow to non-existent strip of asphalt. He sees us come around the corner and spreads his arms with an expression of 'what are you doing here?' on his face. We're driving down the road in an armored conveyance, what are you doing here? Trying to put an end to your miserable existence? Moron.

P.S. I have no idea what 'Kant's Categorical Imperative' is, but it was a heck of a way to open his response.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Power to the People!

Workmen burying Edison DC power lines under the streets in New York City in 1882
Back in 1989, Thomas L. Mc Mahon posted a report about the repair of a high voltage, underground, power transmission line in his neighborhood in Los Angeles. It is quite the story.

The story is posted on Jamie Wazinski's website. His home page is very clever, in an uber-geeky sort of way.

Via Detroit Steve.

Future Perfect

Stamford Raffles
William Gibson, presumably the William Gibson, has a short piece about Singapore on Wired. At first, before I knew who wrote it, I didn't like the writer's attitude, he sounded like a whining, liberal twerp. But about half way through he mentions that he writes science fiction, I check out the byline, and all of a sudden my attitude shifted from 'stupid twerp' to 'maybe there's something here'.

The whole place sounds a little bit like Star Trek, all clean and spiffy and well behaved, but boring. Of course, if you are engaged in intellectual pursuits, a boring physical world is good.

The best part is that I learned who Raffles was. In stories I've read, the name Raffles is attached to some venerable old hotel, but there was never any explanation. Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore around 1818.

Singapore might be capitalist today because the USA fought the communists in Vietnam.

Via Detroit Steve

Friday, January 10, 2020

Panama & Jamaica

The Deadliest Strip of Land In The World | Random Thursday

I was hoping Joe was going to talk about how difficult it is to cross from North America to South America by walking across Panama, but no, he's talking about building the Panama Canal. He's pretty entertaining, so I watched. One thing that caught my ear is he's talking about the Culebra Cut (11:20 mark) and how they had to lower the mountain from 59 meters to 12 and I'm thinking that must be an error. What kind of mountain is only 59 meters tall (200 feet for all you moon landing heathens)? Okay, it's not that tall, but the cut is 8 miles long, which means a heck of a lot of digging.

As Joe mentions (13:36 mark), the Panama canal has recently been enlarged, which has resulted in the expansion of some port facilities on the east coast of the USA and the container port in Kingston Jamaica, which I didn't expect.

Jamaica Kingston Harbor
The port is just left of center. The other big piece of concrete near the bottom center is the airport

Expanding the port in Kingston required dredging.

Jan De Nul Group - Kingston Port (Jamaica)
You can mute the soundtrack if it annoys you, it's just music. There is no information.

Kingston Port

New container cranes arriving in San Juan Puerto Rico
Just in case you were wondering how they delivered these cranes.