Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Monday, January 31, 2022

In From the Cold | Official Teaser | Netflix

I dunno about this one. It starts out well enough, we've got a woman who used to be a Soviet assassin, but escaped when the Soviet Union collapsed. Plausible enough since presumably the whole Soviet intelligence apparatus was thrown in chaos. But now the CIA has found her. The way they do it is they threaten to kill her, whereupon she reacts by taking out a good dozen agents in a well choreographed fight scene. Only problem here is I doubt the CIA would expend so many people on this task. Several of the injuries she inflicted would have been crippling or fatal in real life. But it made a good fight scene.

So now she is being coerced by the CIA to do some dirty work. The first episode ends with her being cornered by a dozen thugs in a prison, so she pulls out all stops and turns into the Hulk, doubling her size and bulk by using some sooper-sekret Soviet technology embedded in her body. The show was okay up to this point but this might be just a little too far over the top.

Offering to the Storm

Offering to the Storm

Offering to the Storm is part three of the Baztán Trilogy, following The Invisible Guardian and The Legacy of the Bones. The film is set in the small town of Elizondo in the Baztán valley in northern Spain next to border with France near the Atlantic coast. The mood is creepy, it rains all the time, and while the series started with a dead baby, the body count really piles up in this installment.

It seems to be pretty well produced, but I think it might help if we had watched all three in close succession. Actually, I'm not sure if we even did watch The Legacy of the Bones. In any case they drop a bunch of characters names without really telling us who they are. Presumably if we had recently watched the other two films, we would know.

The gist of it is that there is a secret cult operating in the valley that sacrifices babies for the promise of wealth, power and glory, and it seems to deliver. Not quite sure how that happens. Perhaps if you are willing to sacrifice a child, no other form of abasement scares you and you become willing to do all kinds of evil shit. They don't put it that way, they seem to think it's magical. Another mechanism that occured to me is that possibly the cult leader is a demented psychopathic billionaire who just enjoys running people through this horrific initiation. Once they get past that, they become part of his business network which leads to the aforementioned wealth and power. Anyway, the cult's indoctrination is very effective, all those who get found out commit suicide, and they murder any outsider who gets too close. So when the cops start closing in, bodies start falling. I don't think they ever got the cult leader.

So it's creepy, and it's well produced, but it just didn't get me in the feels, you know? Maybe the people are just too different, it subtle ways mind you, than what I am used to, but I just couldn't connect to any of them.

Cult is just an extreme form of a pack.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

'Jonah Hex' Trailer HD

A comic book story. It was okay up until about ten minutes in and then he starts blasting a gang of thugs with a pair of gatling guns that he has slung on either side of his horse, the horse he is riding.  How is it we never saw those before he puts them to work? That was just too much, so we bailed.

New War Chopper

DEFIANT Executes U.S. Army Air Assault Mission Profile

Pack versus Herd

KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

Came across this while reading Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope from Lockdowns to Concentration Camps by John & Nisha Whitehead

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwald, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.” - Rod Serling, Deaths-Head Revisited*

Not too long ago the morons were busy toppling statues because of all the awful 'crimes' those people had committed in the past. One of my kids opined that we shouldn't celebrate Columbus Day because Columbus was such a bad person. While most working people will celebrate having any kind of day off from work, not all of the Federal holidays are to celebrate an event, some are just to commemorate one.

Pack-mentality and herd-mentality are very similar. 'Herd' is usually used to describe a group sheep or cattle. 'Pack' is used almost exclusively to describe a group of wolves. To me, Herd-mentality implies the inclination to go along with the herd, pack-mentality means being an enthusiastic participant in the group's activities. Herds band together for protection, packs act in unison for aggression. It doesn't take much to turn a herd of humans into a pack looking for a victim.

We may have turned the corner on the COVID Panic. Denmark and the UK have recently relaxed their draconian rules. Of course, other places, like Italy, are tightening the screws. People really need something else to worry about. That might be the reason for beating the war drums over Russia and Ukraine. We don't really care about the Ukraine, we just need something to distract the morons from their head long plunge into insanity.

* Rod Serling was the host of The Twilight Zone, and Deaths-Head Revisited was one episode. The quote is from the closing narration.

Via ZeroHedge. I read it on Feedly, which eliminates most of the ads.

The Duel That Wasn't

Photo reconstruction of the famous duel between Princess Pauline Metternich and Countess Kielmannsegg, chaired by Pavel Kurmilev Baronne Lubinska

Cool picture, girls taking bitchiness to the next level, but it's a reconstruction of an imaginary event. So, historical fiction.

Wikipedia has this to say about Princess Pauline:
Pauline Clémentine Marie Walburga, Princess of Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein (1836 – 1921) was a famous Austrian socialite, mainly active in Vienna and Paris. Known for her great charm and elegance as well as for her social commitment, she was an important promoter of the work of the German composer Richard Wagner and the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. She was also instrumental to the creation of the haute couture industry.

. . . 

It is claimed that in August 1892 Pauline took part in a sword duel with Countess Anastasia von Kielmannsegg. The disagreement supposedly stemmed from a dispute over a floral arrangement at the Vienna Musical and Theatre Exposition, of which the nobles were honorary president and president of the exhibition, respectively. The supposed duel involved the participants stripping to the waist to reduce the risk of a wound becoming infected; the image of two topless nobles captured the imagination of artists and scandalized Victorians. However there are no primary sources for the story, only accounts from foreign newspapers; furthermore, not long after the first accounts were published, a French newspaper printed a denial by the Princess, in which she calls the story a "ridiculous invention by Italian journalists".

More pics here.

Via Liberalguy


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Defeating Zuckerberg's Metaverse, w Stephen Fry

I've tried watching some of Stephen Fry's other videos, but, if I recall correctly, his politics put me off. This one doesn't go into politics much. The first part of the video talks about the history of computers and how computer chips are made now, and that portion is the best I've seen. Then he wanders off into AI (Artificial Intelligence) and quantum computing and he gets all spacey.

I don't know if AI is going to do that much for us. It might enable some whiz kids to develop some fancy new stuff that could make our lives better, but we're still going to be stuck with being human beings, version 1.0.

Entertainment is great, but for all it's amazing forms, it's still just entertainment. The real world is still the basis for our lives. No matter how fancy video games become, they will never compare to interacting with real people.

Silly Chinese Historical Fantasies


These are all set in ancient China, like a thousand years ago. These first two might be aimed at children. They are pretty silly. We watched the first two episodes of The Glorious Imperial Concubine, they're like 45 minutes long. We have a princess and a prince from two separate clans who want to run away and be happy. Good luck with that kids, you're royalty and you are saddled with royal obligations. Two episodes was enough.

征途 (Double World) Official Trailer 1 (HD)
헨리 Henry Lau

This two hour movie doesn't make much sense but the special effects are spectacular. 

There is a murderous competition to select the next Grand Marshal of the army. Just getting to the competition is an ordeal. Our trio of competitors must first cross a desert. They run into a couple of giant scorpions hiding just below the surface of the sand, and a vicious sand storm that kills one of their trio. They meet a young girl who becomes his replacement simply because she survived and for no apparent reason latches onto our two remaining heros. 

The stadium where some of the competition is held is this huge stone thing reminiscent of a Roman colosseum. There are a dozens of giant chains stretched across the central arena maybe 50 feet in the air. Underneath are large upward pointing spikes. The contestants must cross the arena on the chains. Falling from the chains is likely to be fatal, if you aren't impaled on a spike, the height alone will probably kill you. There are two sets of chains, each mounted on an independently rotatable ring. The rings rotate randomly depending on the whim of the treacherous Grand Tutor. Who dreams up these things? I wouldn't be surprised to see this show up in a video game, or maybe that's where it came from.

There is also The King of Beasts, a giant dragon headed snake that chases our heros through a labyrinth of tunnels.

rthdal Chronicles | Official Trailer | Netflix [ENG SUB CC]
The Swoon

This one seems more like a take off of Avatar, except no space travel. We have two races, one apparently human and one with superman-like abilities. The humans want the superman's land and when they won't agree to let them farm it, the humans embark on a war to exterminate the supermen. The story is vague and jumbled. There are half breed babies, but no explanation for where they came from. Lots of action and people being snarky, but the plot is sparse. It's like there might be a coherent story underneath, but they skip over most of it only touching down occasionally so you need to fill in these huge holes by surmising what must have happened to get us here. Kind of a pain. Episodes are an hour and a half long. We watched one. I don't know if we will watch another.

Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh (standing, third from left) and Vo Nguyen Giap (in a white suit) are shown with an OSS team in 1945 - United States Army

Comment from Bruce got me started:

"It was later I learned Ho had approached the US and asked for help establishing an independent country based on the US constitution."

Whoa, what? Never heard this before, which triggers my Google reflex and off I go. Several sites have the story, the version I found on the TheWorld seems fairly even handed.

Ho Chi Minh did admire the United States, but he had been an ardent communist since 1920. His collaboration with the OSS during WW2 was aimed at defeating the Japanese (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), but after WW2 the French came back in and that was the beginning of the war.

The State Historical Society of Iowa also has a page which includes an image of Ho's telegram to Truman that comes from the US National Archives.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Dad Burn Hippies

Magnificent Storyteller Soldier Reveals What He Saw In Vietnam
David Hoffman

I don't know if I heard this guy back in the day, but I heard enough similar stuff to convince me that the US government didn't know what the ef they were doing in Viet Nam and I didn't want have anything to do with it. Guess I wasn't a red-blooded patriot, or maybe I was just too smart for my own good. Pack mentality rules and if you aren't going to follow the pack you best keep your head down cause they'll just as soon cut it off as look at you. Frigging morons.

The Goose Whisperer

Flock of geese flying with an ultralight aircraft

The Spokesman-Review has a story about the origins of this business.

Coulson Gets Around

Coulson Water Bomber in Australia - Jarrod Swanwick

Coulson is based in British Columbia, Canada. A C-130 Hercules has a range of about 2,000 miles. Australia is about 10,000 miles away, all over water, so I was wondering what route they took to get there. I mean there is more than one way to skin a cat (where did that expression come from anyway?), see this post and this video. I suppose they could have carried extra fuel in the cargo bay, but I don't know if they would have been able to carry enough to fly non-stop the whole way. 

Besides having a zillion aircraft photos, FlightAware also has flight logs for every aircraft in existence, so I thought I'd check. That log shows that this aircraft has been in Chile for at least the last month. So Coulson gets around.

Erickson Skycrane - Jarrod Swanwick

This photo was also in this weeks batch from FlightAware. Also from Australia by the same photographer. The Skycrane has appeared here a couple of times.

Wikipedia has a page about the Skycrane and the CH-54 Tarhe, the military version.

Budget Airline Flight to Antarctica

Czech airline Smartwings' 737 Max at Troll Airfield, Antarctica

Airlinerwatch reports:

The flight was chartered by Aircontact to carry the members of the Norwegian Polar Institute to their base. The Troll Research Station located 235 kilometers from the coast in the eastern part of Princess Martha Coast, in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.

They flew from Cape Town, South Africa:

Cape Town to Troll Airfield

The runway at Troll Airfield is two miles long. It seems to be a busy place, for being at the end of Earth.

Via FlightAware

Thursday, January 27, 2022


B-52H Stratofortress Damage Inc II being transported to Oklahoma - April McDonald

Defence Blog has the story. This B-52 was pulled from the boneyard and is going to be used "as an integration model to test how well new technologies and current and future modifications will integrate with B-52 aircraft."

I guess that's a good idea. I mean if you have an extra airframe lying around it could be handy for seeing how the new parts are going to fit. There is a big program to replace the jet engines on the B-52 fleet, which is also kind of good. If you can get another 30 years of use out of these airplanes by replacing the engines, well, why not?

Except the B-52 is already 70 years old. Even the newest ones are 60 years old. You would think that a newer design would be more better, but we already tried that with the B-1 and the B-2. The B-1 and B-2 might be great aircraft, but they are gawd awful expensive. They make the zillion dollars being spent on the B-52 look like chump change, which is probably why it got the go ahead.

I suspect the military-industrial complex is a bloated hog and would be much improved if the excess gas could be released, but that is unlikely to happen. Power, money and herd mentality are the order of the day and things are unlikely to change unless we run into an iceberg.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Portland Street Life

Had lunch with my son today. He tells me two cars have had their windows broken out on his block in the last week. 

Safeway Signature SELECT Drinking Water - 24-16.9 Fl. Oz. - $2.49

The other day he was walking home from Safeway and he noticed a small stream of water running down the street. A little farther on he came across the source of this water. A guy had five cases of the small bottles of drinking water and was cutting them with a knife. We surmise that he purchased the water using food stamps and was emptying them out to prepare to cash them in to collect the bottle deposit so he could get some cash money to buy drugs. At ten cents a bottle, five cases of bottles would net him $12. 

Why do humans go to war?

Man after my own heart. He explains a lot. See my post Factions.

Alcoa Steamship Company

1949 BORIS ARTZYBASHEFF Tropical Caribbean Portrait Art Alcoa Ship Travel AD

Roberta X put up a post about the artist Boris Artzybasheff which intrigued me. Boris made some unusual stuff. The drawings that combined elements of human beings and industrial machines captivated me and I thought a calendar with those images would be a great thing to have. A Google search doesn't turn up what I'm looking for but it does turn up some ads for the Alcoa Steamship Company (above). 

Alcoa in Trinidad

The first thing about the company I find is an address in Trinidad. Google Maps shows an industrial looking complex which I surmise was built to load bauxite (the mineral from which aluminum is made) onto ships for transport to the refineries in the USA.

A little more digging turns up this story of the SS Alcoa Puritan, one of these cargo ships:
SS Alcoa Puritan was a cargo ship in the service of Alcoa Steamship Company that was torpedoed and sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during World War II.

The SS Alcoa Puritan provided freight and passenger service between U.S. and Caribbean ports. The ship was typically staffed with 10 officers and 33 crew, and could also accommodate 8-10 passengers.

On about 1 May 1942, the SS Alcoa Puritan sailed from Port of Spain, Trinidad, alone and unarmed, to Mobile, Alabama loaded with bauxite. Newly in command of the ship was Capt. Yngvar A. Krantz. (The former master of the ship, Axel B. Axelsen, had just left command after unsuccessfully urging shoreside management that the ship be armed.) Among the ten passengers were six survivors from the torpedoed Standard Oil tanker T.C. McCobb.

By April 1942, the German submarine campaign was reaching its height. Records made public after the war revealed that 35 American merchant-marine ships were sunk in March; 42 were sunk in April, and May saw 52 more sent to the bottom.

Just before noon on 6 May 1942, a torpedo passed astern of the Puritan - its wake sighted by one of the T.C. McCobb survivors. General alarm was sounded. A submarine surfaced a few moments later, 2 nautical miles (4 km) off, and fired a warning shell that passed overhead and landed in the water ahead of the ship. Krantz ordered the ship to full speed, hoping to outrun the attacker, and steered a zig-zag course. The sub fired a few more shells that missed, but then refined its targeting and barraged the Puritan with about 70 hits over the course of about 25 minutes. The shelling laid open the ship's superstructure, perforated the funnel, broke all the windows and instrument faces, set fire to parts of the interior, and finally disabled the steering mechanism at the stern.

At about 12:30 p.m., with the ship turning in circles, Krantz ordered the engines stopped and personnel to abandon ship. Soon after everyone was in the water, the submarine fired a second torpedo which struck the ship in the engine room on the port side. The Puritan started to list heavily to port and soon sank below the surface.

The submarine approached the survivors, which had been gathered into lifeboats. The 34-year-old captain of the sub shouted across the water that he was sorry and that he hoped the survivors "make it in all right." He then gave a wave, followed his crew down a hatch, submerged, and departed.

In an hour or less, a United States Navy patrol aircraft - summoned by the Puritan's radio operator during the shelling - spotted the survivors, and at about 4:05 pm the United States Coast Guard cutter Boutwell arrived on the scene and rescued all the passengers and crew - some of them badly injured.

Postwar research revealed the attacking sub to be U-boat U-507, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Harro Schacht. Schacht was still in command of the U-Boat when it was bombed and sunk off Brazil on 13 January 1943, by U.S. Navy aircraft.
I expected to find a railroad to carry bauxite from the mine to Alcoa's loading facility, but I could find no trace of it. Plans to build a smelter there collapsed in 2014. That's all I found.

The Alcoa Steamship Company is still in business using chartered ships.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

National Lead

Dutch Boy Medallion

The Silicon Underground has post about the history of the National Lead company and some its trials and tribulations over pollution. It's a curious story that got me looking for pictures and I found a couple I liked.

Lead oxide used to be commonly used in making white paint. Dutch Boy Paint was founded by National Lead, hence the above medallion.

NL Industries Houston Office
16825 Northchase Drive, Houston, Texas

Objectively there is nothing special about this building, just a plain ordinary building. Well, except for the jaggies, which appealed to me for some reason. Kind of reminds me of Pixels, or Legos.

Russian Yamal-LNG project on the Arctic Ocean

This Cost $27 Billion Dollars to Build

I am really enjoying hearing how the US wants to employ economic sanctions against Russia, and how we are pressuring Germany to not certify the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, all supposedly to protect Ukraine, a probable hub of corruption and villainy. Or maybe we're just doing that to keep the zillion dollar commissions flowing into the Biden's pockets. Whatever. Europe gets 40% of their energy from natural gas from Russia. What do you think will happen to natural gas prices if Russia starts feeling squeezed? You will notice that Total, the French oil company, is a big investor in this project.

Qatar has a big LNG facility. It's quite a bit warmer there, so it is not as efficient at liquifying the gas as the Russian plant, but they don't have to contend with ice and transport would be shorter, so it might be a wash as to which plant is more efficient.

Aker Arctic, the company that designed the ice-breaking LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) carriers, has appeared here before. Note that while the Finnish company designed these ships, they are being built in China.

LNG carrier cargo tank cross section

The membrane in 'membrane tanks' is a thin sheet of fancy steel. One mm (millimeter) thick steel is pretty stout stuff for any everyday kind of application. The steel used to make automobile bodies is only 0.7 mm (1/32 of an inch)Ship's hulls are more like 3/4 of an inch (19 mm), so I can see how shipbuilders would consider something only 1 mm thick as a 'membrane'.

I guess the part that really bugs me about this project is that is makes us, the US, look like a bunch of gibbering fools in comparison. Putin might be a murderous thug, but I suspect he is not worse than any other powerful man and might be quite a bit better. Or maybe his PR (Public Relations) office just does a better job. I look at the crap our government continues to pull on a daily basis and I'm not sure we have any room to talk. All of which reminds me of this scene from The Godfather:

The Godfather (6/9) Movie CLIP - Working for My Father (1972) HD

Everyone in a position of power is a murderous thug. The only difference is whether they are murdering your friends or your enemies.

Monday, January 24, 2022


Ozark: Season 4 | Part 1 Trailer | Netflix

We just finished watching the latest installment of Ozark. I was going to post something, but then I found this review on RT. It's pretty good, so I decided to just steal it.

‘Ozark’ is back in all its brooding, blood-soaked, brilliant glory by Michael McCaffrey

The dark Netflix series kicks off its final season with a binge-worthy cavalcade of crime and corruption

The first part of the fourth and final season of ‘Ozark’, the hit Netflix show about a Middle American family that launders money for a murderous drug cartel, is finally here.

‘Ozark’, much like ‘The Sopranos’ before it, has split its final season into two parts, and premiered the first seven episodes of its final season on January 21, with the last seven coming out later this year. 

When ‘Ozark’ first appeared back in 2017, I had little faith it would be a worthwhile watch. The premise – a regular guy getting caught up in the drug trade – seemed derivative, and its star, Jason Bateman, while a terrific comedic actor, didn’t strike me as having the chops to carry a dark drama.

After watching the first episode of season one, it quickly became apparent that I was fantastically wrong. Yes, ‘Ozark’ certainly owes a debt to ‘Breaking Bad’, as it borrows the “regular guy gets into the drug business” blueprint, but it’s no cheap ‘Breaking Bad’ knock-off. It’s an original, captivating, stylish series that boasts scintillating performances and searing social commentary.

Just to remind you, the show follows the trials and tribulations of accountant Marty Byrde (Bateman), a middle-aged accountant who happens to be a money launderer extraordinaire.

When Marty gets in too deep with the Navarro drug cartel, he and his wife Wendy, teenage daughter Charlotte and son Jonah, leave Chicago for the backwaters of the Ozarks, where the whole family must navigate their internecine conflicts while also dealing with the perils of drug lords and law enforcement.

The show’s cast is tremendous, but it’s Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde that is the straw that stirs the drink. Bateman’s Marty is a masterwork of skilled, subtle, and intricate acting.

Marty is a problem-solver, and while it’s his original sin that sets the story in motion, he’s now blessed/cursed to be surrounded by a coterie of combustible women who seem to cause all his problems.

For example, there’s Wendy, gloriously played by Laura Linney in full Lady Macbeth mode, who is a ferociously ambitious sort who hides her ruthless nature behind her smiling mom exterior. Wendy’s reach often exceeds her grasp, putting the whole family in danger, and it’s Marty who has to be the calm, cool voice of reason and the one to clean up her mess.

Then there’s spitfire Ruth Langmore, Marty’s protégé, phenomenally portrayed by two-time Emmy Award winner Julia Garner. Ruth is a firebrand – vicious, volcanic, yet vulnerable. When her deep-seated wound is sufficiently poked and she unleashes her existential fury, she’s a diabolical dervish that destroys everything and everyone in her orbit, including Ruth herself.

And then there’s the queen of the Redneck Riviera, Darlene Snell, the local drug boss and all-around low-rent lunatic. Darlene (fiercely portrayed by Lisa Emery) could be the inbred sister of the backwater rapists in ‘Deliverance’, and her relentless, shotgun-toting, mama-bear energy is unnerving.

It’s a stroke of cultural/political sub-textural genius that the women of ‘Ozark’ are, almost universally, the catalysts of the story and also consistently irrational, incorrigible, and violently narcissistic. They are as depraved as any of the men, if not more so. And it always falls to Marty, flaws and all, to put the pieces back together after one of these witches casts a wayward spell.

Too often nowadays, movies and TV shows want to empower women without having them grapple with the insidious shadow that comes with power. ‘Ozark’ empowers women, but also lets them wallow, flail, and drown in the same deep, dark waters that engulf men when they venture too far from shore, and it’s utterly delicious to watch.

Another great thing about the show is that it’s a brooding, blood-soaked meta-commentary on life among the ruins of an American empire in steep decline. The stench of desperation and the rot of corruption, both personal and institutional, is absolutely everywhere.

The Byrdes start out trying to do the right thing, but their moral and ethical degradation spreads like a virus, contaminating everyone with whom they come into contact and leaving a trail of broken bodies and broken spirits in its wake.

Also corrupt is every law enforcement agency, both local and federal, every politician, and every corporation that shows its ugly head and bares its teeth in the Byrdes’ direction.

Another stroke of creative genius was having the Byrdes get into the riverboat casino business, as ‘Ozark’ is a running commentary on the absurdity of our casino capitalist system, where the little people are cannon fodder, the rigged shell game is never-ending, the money is conjured out of thin air, and nothing is built on solid ground.

As an artistic endeavor, ‘Ozark’ is fantastically well crafted. Creators Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams, as well as season four directors Andrew Bernstein (one of the very best in television), Alik Sakharov, and Robin Wright (the famed actress), consistently set the menacing mood with ominous atmospherics, using a stellar score and masterfully executed cinematography. 

Ultimately, despite some minor plot missteps, the first part of the season proves ‘Ozark’ is as good as it gets on television. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s remarkably compelling and thoroughly satisfying. I’ll be sad to see the series go, but I’m glad it’s here for a little while longer.

Ruth is the star of this show. Darlene has never met a problem she can't solve with a shotgun. Marty manages to stay cool regardless of whatever crisis is currently unfolding. Of course, his initiation into this life was a high stress situation. He survived that, so I suspect being cool under pressure got baked into his bones.

Friday, January 21, 2022

New Albany in the News

Intel's Rohler Acres Fab
I don't know how many billions of dollars they have sunk into this plant,
but defintely more than one.

 'New Albany' sounds like the name of a colony on another planet in a science fiction novel, or maybe that's just because I haven't had my first cup of coffee this morning. However, it is a small town just northeast of Columbus, Ohio. What about old Albany? I mean, if there is a new one, there should be an old one, right? That would be Scotland.

Back when I was in high school we lived on the orchard northeast of Columbus and driving to the big city took you through New Albany. Back then it was just a crossroads with maybe a gas station.

This morning I got an email from California Bob:

From Reuters News:

Intel to invest up to $100 bln in Ohio chip plants

Intel Corp said on Friday it would invest up to $100 billion to build potentially the world's largest chip-making complex in Ohio, as it looks to boost capacity amid a global shortage of semiconductors used in everything from smartphones to cars.

I thought it was weird when Abercombie & Fitch built their headquarters there, but maybe they were onto something. Beaverton, Oregon is home to Tektronix, makers of electronic test equipment, so Intel was could be pretty sure there was a technologically competent workforce here. Columbus is the state capital. North American Aviation used to have a plant there. Ohio State University and Batelle are there, so sort of the same thing.

Ohio is part of the Rust Belt that has been in decline since 1980. I suspect the unions are not as strong as they used to be, which could make it more attractive to giant corporations.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bob

Very clever Al. Every line of the lyrics is a palindrome. Not sure I ever heard this song before, on the other hand it does sound like Bob Dylan, so I may have heard this tune and thought it was Dylan, not Al. This tune came out in 2003.

Biker Chick

Nancy setting off for a motorcycle rally in England, 1934.
80 piece jigsaw puzzle

Nancy Debenham and her sister Betty were avid bikers back in the 1930s. Sheldon's EMU has a note about them.

Sheldon't EMU seems to be quite the motorcycle site:

Sheldon's Emu began as a collection of articles, letters and emails about European motorcycles, the result of research and correspondence dating back to 1994. It now covers several thousand different marques, many of which have extensive archives including images and specifications. The site relates to vintage, veteran and classic motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, with numerous pages on road-racing and off-road competition machines.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Our Modern, Computerized Life

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. - Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

Seems like lately we have been running into a plethora of computer system problems. Not the computers in our house, they are all working fine. I'm talking about the big computer systems at the other end of wire, the systems we are talking to to get what we want.

RUST sports took over the Trail Blazers basketball games from NBC Sports Northwest (I think I have the names right) a couple of months ago and ever since we have been seeing video glitches during the games. I can understand one once in a while, but we are getting glitches every few minutes. It's annoying because it shouldn't be happening. It's very annoying when it happens in the middle of some high paced action, you can't see what happened. We are paying big money for this stuff and their ham handed handling is irritating. 'Big money' is a relative term, I think we paying about $60 a month to watch the Blazers, which is like four times as much as Netflix.

Two days ago we tried to watch a movie on HBOMAX and we couldn't. We pointed and clicked, dialed numbers, listened to stupid robo-cop answering systems, but got nowhere. Everything goes through Ziply Fiber and they were reporting widespread problems in Oregon, and at the end of a long slog we got a message saying that customer service was only open during business hours, like 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday, so we gave up for the night.

We got back on the problem yesterday afternoon. After what seemed like a couple of hours, two laptops,  and endless repetitions of logging onto sites I haven't used since the last time we ran into this problem, we finally got it resolved. I think the trick that finally got it working was to logoff of HBO on the ROKU box and then log back in. I didn't even know you could do that. On the plus side I learned something new about the ROKU, but on the negative side it was information I didn't want to know. I would say we never have this problem with Netflix, but I am afraid I might jinx us and I don't want that, so I won't.

It seems I have been having to call Walgreens every month for the last six months or so, ever since they hooked up with Alliance Rx to do their delivery-by-mail service. It usually takes two phone calls. The first call reliably fails, either I get disconnected or I get an operator who doesn't know what they are doing and nothing gets fixed, but the second usually connects with someone who is able to correct the problem in short order. It's probably not always two, but that's the way it seems. Maybe two is just the average, but I don't keep track, but that's what my memory is telling me. Always reliable, me memory.

We won't talk about how a couple of changes in the medical business took an endless number of calls to get sorted. My cardiologist closed his practice and moved to another one, and my wife decided to change my prescription insurance. Either one of those events would have been a nuisance, but together they were a nuisance squared.

Having a decent speakerphone in my smartphone means I don't have to hold the phone, I can lay it on the desk and let it blare the very poor quality muzak and the super annoying bullshit while I continue to play solitaire on my computer and wait to be connected to someone who can actually help. I swear, the announcements from these outfits are designed to be extra long and as aggravating as possible to encourage people to hang up. I mean, is it really necessary to tell people to call 911 if this is an emergency? (P.S. I wonder if there has been a spike in calls to 911 by people who just got fed up with this crap.)

At a Sitel Group call center in Metro Manila.Photographer: Xyza Cruz Bacani for Bloomberg Businessweek

Of course, customer service is an expense and companies are loath to spend any more money than absolutely necessary, so you get crap phones, crap computer systems, and crap training. I really feel for the people who work these jobs. I would hate to be a position where I had to do that kind of work. On the other hand, misery loves company, so if you are in with a decent bunch of folks it might be okay. Plus there might be coffee and donuts. Mmmm, donuts.

On the other hand we have an endless supply of high quality video entertainment, which is great, though we watch so much I might be getting burned out. Probably ought to take a couple of nights off each week to read. And when mail-order delivery is working, it's great, I don't have to run to the pharmacy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

1937 Monarch Stove

1937 Monarch wood burning and electric stove

I'm not quite sure I understand what I am seeing here. An electric stove that also burns wood? Why? Because electrical power was unreliable back in 1937? Or maybe the price of firewood was volatile, so when it was cheap you burned wood, but when the price jumped up because - who knows, the wood cutters union went on strike, or they got drunk, or whatever, you switched to electricity. Or maybe it was when you were in the money and you could pay the electric bill, you used electricity, but when you were out of work and the power company shut off your power, you could still cut your own wood and cook dinner. I dunno, it's just the strangest thing I have seen in a while.

50 years ago Jody & I stopped at the Tree Frog commune, or what was left of it, in northern New Mexico. A friend of mine from Ohio, one John R. Montgomery, black sheep of the Montgomery Lumber Company in Newark, used to live there. Mentioning his name to the couple living there got us a rustic cabin to sleep in. They had a wood burning stove in their cabin and the woman claimed she could boil water in ten minutes starting with a cold stove.

The man was making a living making silver jewelry. I remember seeing him at work one morning filing a silver button over the foam lid of an egg carton. (Were egg cartons even made of foam back then?) The lid was to catch the bits of silver that were being filed off of the button. Strangest thing I had ever seen, up till then. 

He had had a heart attack. He was probably only 30 years old but he looked like he weighed 300 pounds. The doctor put him on a 1200 Calorie-a-day diet. There was no running water, but there was an irrigation ditch maybe four feet across full of a flowing stream of ice cold water, if you wanted a bath. Mine was brief. Bear Mountain was nearby. We tried climbing it but when we got to around 10,000 feet I ran out of air.

While I am talking about old times, IAman asked the hostess an Banning's Pies yesterday for the non-smoking section which got a chuckle out her since smoking hasn't been allowed in restaurants in Oregon since 1999. I knew it happened a few years ago, but 20 years? Boy, time sure flies.

Via Posthip Scott and Ebay



Support Rod Mounting

California Bob reports:
[The in-laws] may be moving in, so we wanted to section off an area downstairs to give them some privacy.  First I was thinking "wall," then "partial wall maybe 6' high..."  Then I said "heck, no one's gonna be down there anyway, let's just curtain it off."

Made some big curtains out of Home Depot canvas tarps, and metal conduit for curtain rod. Got these little curtain rod rings with alligator clips that you just clip to the hem of the canvas. Dirt cheap and has a decent muslin look to it. 

I was actually at Restoration Hardware HQ a few weeks ago, and their lobbies are full of stuff that looks like this -- though priced in the the thousands. I'll pass my curtains off as Belgian linen.
I wonder if this is how Hong Kong got started. 'Yeah, we've got some extra room, you can stay will us' and then it just kept going. We've got a couple of the kids staying with us, but 99% of the time I am not even aware they are here.

My daughter wanted to curtain off part of the big downstairs room for her wedding reception. I never understood that. Did she think people were going to steal some books? Or sit in the chairs? Yeah, there's some things about being social that I just don't understand.

'Mericans Sure Do Like their Electricity

This battery business is getting out of control.

Green Car Reports

Wallbox Quasar 2

"At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Wallbox Industries will unveil its second-generation bidirectional home charging station for the North American market."

Like its predecessor, the Wallbox Quasar 2 can draw power from an EV's battery pack, allowing the car to serve as an emergency backup power source for homes. Bidirectional charging effectively turns electric cars into energy-storage units, giving homeowners more flexibility in energy use, Wallbox said in a press release.

Chuck Egg reports:

EcoFlow RIVER Max Portable Power Station

I own an EcoFlow River Max "Portable Power Station" and a portable foldable solar panel (which is much more expensive now than when I bought it a couple years ago.  Supply line issue, perhaps?)

PAXCESS 120W 18V Portable Solar Panel

My mom has COPD and uses two oxygen generators.  Her smaller  transportable battery powered oxygen unit can be charged and powered by 110v or a 12v (cigarette lighter) outlet..  The Oxygen unit's detachable battery can run the O2 generator for up to about 4 hours.  When we inquired about a second battery we were told the price was about $400 because it is a "medical device".   So, instead, I bought the EcoFlow Battery because it was just a few dollars more, but had a lot more potential uses since it has 110v, 12v and USB outlets.

In fact, we've used the EcoFlow to extend battery power for a few extra hours on mom's O2 machine, but more often we've used the Ecoflow battery to power our internet router, computers, TV, and LED lights when the power has gone out for short periods.

In the summer, I connect the Ecoflow to a portable solar panel to charge the Ecoflow battery, then use the USB ports to charge, for free, our phones, tablets and laptops.

No, the cost for a high watt-hour battery backup may not make sense for the average household, but a lot of people use them for temporary power during outages and a lot more people use them with solar panels when they are camping.  I've loaned my Ecoflow out to friends a few times during power outages and they've used it to brew a pot of coffee, watch TV, and charge their cell phones.

The Ecoflow I use has a high wattage button that allows the battery to power a table saw, circular saw, or other power tools which may be more convenient than running an extension cord.

The Ecoflow unit we use has a capacity of 576 watt hours.  It's simple math to calculate how long the battery will power LED lighting (at several watts per hour, per bulb) or an internet router (2-3 watts per hour), etc.  The battery displays remaining power in both watt hours and minutes at the current load.

Power tool companies are making widgets that make 110VAC from power tool batteries. They don't deliver a lot of power and they don't last long, but there seems to be a market for them, charging phones, or job sites without 110 where you don't want to run a generator. 

We seldom get hit with power outages. I wonder if being just down the street from Intel's Ronler Acres multi-billion dollar computer chip factory has anything to do with that. I kind of suspect that they went to a lot of trouble and expense to make sure their money printing machine has a reliable supply of 'lectricity.

While some people are making a lot of noise about how electric cars are more efficient, save you money and are good for the environment, that's all it is, a lot of noise. What it's really all about is convenience. I have a smartphone. I don't like it very much but I carry it with me everywhere because it is very useful. I like my gasoline powered truck, but having to go out of my way to reach a gas station and then wait in line to buy gas is annoying and inconvenient. 

Me, I'll put up with all kinds of annoying bullshit if it means I don't have to spend any money, but now I'm thinking about spending $80 for a new printer so I don't have to walk upstairs to get my one page of printout or figure out how to connect my Linux box to the printer on my wife's Windows box. I mean I already spent an hour on this and got nowhere. Yes, I still use paper and pencil for some things.

Outlaw King, Again

Outlaw King and his cohorts

We watched it once before, back in 2019. It's still pretty good. The Battle of Loudoun Hill is glorious, Billy Howle as Prince of Wales is properly villainous, you will have no trouble hating him. Locking Queen Elizabeth in a cage and hanging it off the castle wall doesn't seem so bad until you realize how cold Scotland is. I don't image she could have survived long. Of course she survived, it's a movie after all.

Monday, January 17, 2022


A couple items we talked about at lunch today.


Golden Goodyear Tire

Cousin John tells us that he got 100,000 miles out of a set of Goodyear 6-ply tires on his aging Toyota 4-Runner. I recalled that I got 80,000 miles out of the Goodyear Wranglers that came with my Dodge Dakota when it was new. Never had tires that lasted so long before or since. Never had a car that lasted that long either, so maybe it's not a fair comparison. Still, it says something for Goodyear.


IAman tells us his kids want to hear stories about the jobs he has had. He can't understand why, to him they were mostly pretty miserable. Perhaps they were miserable because he was poorly paid, but never mind, he worked at some odd jobs, like uranium mining in Colorado and shipping out out an oil tanker.

This reminds me of a story told by a doctor at my first job out of high school. I had a job as a machinist trainee in the radiology department at OSU Hospital in Columbus Ohio. The doctor was known for being frugal - he hung up his old tea bags to dry so he could reuse them. One day he tells us about his first job as an immigrant kid in New York City or Chicago, some big place. For some reason I thought it was in the 1920s, but it may have been as late at 1945, given that he was a doctor and I'm guessing about 40 years old. Anyway his first job is in a jigsaw puzzle factory. They load the uncut puzzles into a machine that cuts them into puzzles all at one blow. The puzzles, still all assembled, go down a conveyor belt to our doctor where he catches them as they come off the end and guides them onto a stack of cut puzzles. All day long, bent over, catching these fragile collection of cardboard bits and setting them down. If he screwed up and dropped one, he got to stay after work and put them back together. He got so familiar with these puzzles that it was easier for him to assemble them from the back. He knew the shape of all the pieces and looking at the back he didn't have the picture to distract him.

I was making $2.25 an hour at that job, which was a heck of lot more than my cousin John was getting at his first job. He got a job washing dishes when he was in high school where they paid him 75 cents an hours. This was 1965-1970. He was living at home in Longview Washington and I was living in the big city paying big city rent, so he was probably coming out ahead.


Kids these days seem to think nothing of flying 500 or 1000 miles, or across the country to see some friends for day or two. I can probably count the number of airline flights I have made on my fingers. Each one was a pretty big deal. I did drive all over the country when I was in my 20s, so I guess I had a bit of the travel bug. But gas was 30 cents a gallon and airlines were regulated, so I guess that explains that. I never much cared for flying and the thought of flying now repels me. All this business of standing in line and then being cooped up in tin can with no place you can stretch your legs has no appeal. I still like driving though. The price of gas would have to go to $10 a gallon before it would give me pause. The way inflation is going I wouldn't be surprised if it got there within five years.

P.S. I went looking for some pictures of puzzle production. I didn't find any that kept the puzzle intact, but I did find this one and it's pretty nuts. One guy talks about how a puzzle will hold together just after the 2:40 mark.

How America's Largest Puzzle Factory Makes 2 Million Puzzles A Month
Business Insider

Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller Quarter

What a name. 'Killer' is a common enough nickname, but it generally doesn't mean that someone actually killed a person. Being as Wilma is a Cherokee Indian, I am sure one of her ancestor's came by the name legitimately. Of course, on a long enough time scale, we could all find someone in our ancestry that could have earned the name. Wikipedia has a page about her. Via Dad's Deadpool Blog.

Now I'm looking at this image and I notice the third line of the inscription. What the heck is that? Russian? No, silly, it's Cherokee. From Omniglot:

Cherokee syllabary

The Cherokee syllabary was invented by George Guess/Gist, a.k.a. Chief Sequoyah, of the Cherokee, and was developed between 1809 and 1824. At first Sequoyah experimented with a writing system based on logograms, but found this cumbersome and unsuitable for Cherokee. He later developed a syllabary which was originally cursive and hand-written, but it was too difficult and expensive to produce a printed version, so he devised a new version with symbols based on letters from the Latin alphabet and Western numerals.

Sequoyah's descendants claim that he was the last surviving member of his tribe's scribe clan and the Cherokee syllabary was invented by persons unknown at a much earlier date.

By 1820 thousands of Cherokees had learnt the syllabary, and by 1830, 90% were literate in their own language. Books, religious texts, almanacs and newspapers were all published using the syllabary, which was widely used for over 100 years.

Today the syllabary is still used; efforts are being made to revive both the Cherokee language and the Cherokee syllabary, and Cherokee courses are offered at a number of schools, colleges and universities.

Ask Google about Sequoyah and you open a whole can of worms, like this one.