Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Saturday, September 30, 2023

REPTILE Official Trailer (2023) Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake

Reptile | Benicio Del Toro & Justin Timberlake | Official Trailer | Netflix

Prototypical small town murder mystery. Just enough red herrings to keep you guessing, half a dozen obvious suspects, and then the drugs in the form of 13 kilos of heroin turn up. And then another 13 kilos of heroin turn up. Now how can that be? Something is very rotten in Scarborough. Looks like Scarborough, Maine to me, though I suppose it could be Toronto. Both of which are silly since it was shot in Atlanta. The best part was watching Benicio.

The scheme the bad guys were using rates a mention. They would hide drugs in someone's house, call the cops on them, the house would be searched, the homeowner arrested, and the house would be confiscated and sold. They would keep the money and the drugs and do it again. Shoot, I dunno if they were even dealing. They might have just bought the dope to use for their search and seizure scam.

Update November 2023 replace missing video.

Friday, September 29, 2023

MiG-17 - Tumbling Goose showing off his 17’s burners.

Wikipedia, as usual, has plenty to say about this antique:

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-17; NATO reporting name: Fresco) is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the Soviet Union from 1952 and was operated by air forces internationally. The MiG-17 was license-built in China as the Shenyang J-5 and Poland as the PZL-Mielec Lim-6. The MiG-17 is still being used by the North Korean air force in the present day and has seen combat in the Middle East and Asia.

The MiG-17 was an advanced modification of the MiG-15 aircraft produced by the Soviet Union during the Korean War. Production of the MiG-17 was too late for use in that conflict and was first used in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958. While the MiG-17 was designed to shoot down slower American bombers, it showed surprising success when used by North Vietnamese pilots to combat American fighters and fighter-bombers during the Vietnam War, nearly a decade after its initial design. This was due to the MiG-17 being more agile and maneuverable than the American F-4 Phantom and F-105 Thunderchief, which were focused on speed and long range combat, as well as the fact that MiG-17 was armed with a gun, which initial models of the F-4 Phantom lacked.

I've been wanting to put together a timeline of Russian jet fighters. I have a hard time keeping all the various model numbers straight. I mean, what are we up to now? 23? 55?

Are You Introverted or is it Autism?

I'm listening to this guy and I'm getting confused: he sounds like me, but I'm here in my chair and he's on the screen. What's going on? Man, this is weird.

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Mission Trajectory

So NASA sent a probe to collect some asteroid dirt from an asteroid that has an orbit similar to our own. Seven years round trip, which basically means it went around the sun seven times. Not how Flash Gordon would have done it, but then this was an economy cruise. Nice thing about robots, they don't have to be fed or watered, you can just put them to sleep for the duration and give 'em a call to wake them up when it's time to get to work. 

The video makes it look like everything was happening in the same plane which is not actually the case.

Earth Gravity Assist Trajectory – Image: University of Arizona

The plane of the asteroid's orbit is inclined six degrees compared to the Earth's. The probe was sent on a trajectory that caused it to be slightly below the Earth's orbital plane so when it caught up with the Earth after the first year, the Earth would give it a tug that would send it up at the required angle of six degrees.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Last Bomb - 1945 (Remastered Full HD, Sound)

Dad gum WW2. The thing is just a monster, zillions of people, zillions of dollars and zillions of stories. It's just endless. This war in the Pacific is incomprehensible. The only way to make any sense of it is by looking at the numbers. The war cost $300 billion. The population of the country was 130 million. Figure half of them were taxpayers, then the war cost each taxpayer roughly $5,000 which is roughly equivalent to half a million today, i.e. the price of a house. I think my folks paid like $4,000 for their first house back in 1950.

B-29's had 4 engines each, each engine had 2 rows of cylinders, each row had 9 cylinders, each cylinder had two spark plugs. You send 500 planes on a trip to Tokyo, you're going to need to change all 72,000 spark plugs plus you're going to need another four million gallons of gasoline for your next attack. This is the modern day equivalent of an Egyptian pyramid.

By the standards of western civilization, the Japanese were deranged. However, apparently, for the  most part, the Japanese actually believed the crazy shit Tojo foisted on them. We see the same thing with radical Islamists, ISIS, Nazis, and any number of other smaller cults. All it takes is control of the media and an obedient office of propaganda and you can get people to believe all kinds of shit.

There's gotta be something that can be done. Elon seems to be the only one with any clout who is fighting the tsunami of bullshit that is flowing out of Washington. Yes, I'm contributing my two cents, but given inflation two cents is worth less than zero. Oh, shit, now we've got a song:

Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Less Than Zero - 5/5/1978 - Capitol Theatre (Official)

So who's Oswald? Wikipedia knows:

The song expressed Costello's anger after seeing former British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley interviewed on television, attempting to deny his racist past. In the liner notes to the Rhino edition of the album, Costello writes:

"Less Than Zero" was a song I had written after seeing the despicable Oswald Mosley being interviewed on BBC television. The former leader of the British Union of Fascists seemed unrepentant about his poisonous actions of the 1930s. The song was more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument.

And here we are full circle.

Edison Motors

Topsy - 1 minute tour
Edison Motors

Edison Motors started with an old truck and converted it to electric drive. Now it looks like they have built a prototype from scratch.

There are a couple advantages of this kind of setup. One is that you can get by with a smaller engine. You don't need a giant engine for cruising down the highway and for those times when you do need maximum grunt you have those big electric motors and their batteries. Another is that you don't need a mechanical transmission. Electric motors can deliver full torque at zero RPM. That's why this same kind of setup, minus the batteries, is used in locomotives.

The downsides are that the batteries are heavy and all those electronic gizmos are expensive.

WW2 German POW Travels the USA

I Couldn't Believe How Rich America Was. We Never Stood A Chance.

This story runs for about an hour. There is no video, just the one still image. It's the story of one German prisoner-of-war's experience after being captured near the end of WW2. I found his observations and explanations fascinating.

POW Travels Across the USA

He and his fellows spent a lot of time traveling on trains, sometimes in comfort, sometimes not.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


It occurs to me that it is very difficult to organize people in order to accomplish something.

The economy is funny. We have il ya beaucoup de companies that employ scads of people, maybe half of whom are making a living wage. There is a large number of people who have invested in these companies and are collecting profits in the form of dividends and increased share prices. We have a handful of people who are making bazillions of dollars either from running these organizations or from having a huge share of the ownership.

We also have a huge number of people who are not employed, not working and not earning any income. Most of those are children and a fair number are stay-at-home mothers.

Then we have the problem people, adults who are not contributing in any meaningful manner other than perhaps picking up beer cans from the side of the road.

Robots are putting more and more people out of work. Just look at Amazon and the automobile factories. Yes, we now have people building robots, but they are a small fraction of the number of people being displaced.

There are new opportunities popping up. With a little talent and persistence, some people are making a living making videos for social media. I dunno, but I suspect the illicit drug business has been expanding faster than the population, so there are more people making a living dealing drugs. I suspect these number of people succeeding in these endeavors is insignificant compared to the general employment picture.

What we need is a financial incentive for people to start companies that can employ the currently unemployed. It wouldn't be a conventional business, it wouldn't be able to compete in the existing economy. Problem people would need training, discipline and, most importantly, motivation. A little religion might help. Asking the government to help would almost certainly assure failure. Suspension of minimum wage laws might help.

Of course, the biggest problem is our corrupt congress that keeps spending obscene amounts of money for the sole purpose of getting kickbacks. Can't say as I blame them. Money seems to be the only thing that anybody cares about any more.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Pacific

'Our Cause Is Just' Trailer | The Pacific | HBO Classics

Story about the Marines rooting out the Japanese soldiers from one South Pacific island after another. I put up a post about this movie once before. The show seems to be about equal parts combat, support and personal life, i.e. girls. 

Much of the combat scenes on Guadalcanal happened at night when you can't see shit, and on the TV it's even worse. Until something catches fire or somebody sends up a flare, you really can't see much at all.

One heroic dude gets sent home to sell war bonds. They put him on board a DC-3 in Australia and I'm wondering how the heck is this going to work. A DC-3 doesn't have the range to fly across the Pacific. Airlines were carrying passengers from San Francisco to Australia, but they were using big, four-engined, flying boats, and they still had to make several stops for fuel.

Pacific & Adjacent areas 1942 showing key air ferry route.

The blue arrows in the lower right corner are the air route to and from the USA. Wikipedia has a page about South Pacific air ferry routes in WW2.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Psycho Killlers

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (Original Version - Tony Mendes Video Re Edit)
Tony Mendes

Tam posted a link to a story about identifying psycho killers before they go off the deep end and start shooting people. Got to give credit to Ron Borsch for even trying to tackle this unpleasant issue. We've all heard the news reports about how nobody never noticed nothing odd about the weirdo, which we all know is bullshit. Psycho killers are invariably some variation of crazy, stupid loners. The reason no one notices nothing is because people instinctively try to avoid people like that. Non-psycho killers spend time with people whose company they enjoy (psycho-killers have no friends). People don't want to go looking for problems, they have enough problems of their own, they don't need to go looking for more. I mean, it's not hard, pick up any rock and there is always some rats nest of trouble underneath. Just let it lie, maybe it won't blow up.

You want to identify these weirdos before something happens? It's not that difficult, you just have to look. Of course, there is the problem with false positives. There are any number of people out there who are crazy, stupid loners, but it's still hard to tell which ones are actually liable to go over the edge and which ones will just mutter along.

Welcome to the 21st Century, where truly illuminating discussions about the evil lurking in people's minds is accompanied by popular music.

P. S. Got the YouTube address wrong on my first pass, but it's fixed now.

A Desperate Light: Moore's Tubes

Entertaining little piece about the very early days of electric lighting. At 2:50, she starts describing how Moore's Tubes worked. The mechanism is so complicated I burst out laughing. That kind of explains why they never caught on.

High Tech in Your Backyard

SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center)

California Bob reports:

I didn't realize exactly where it was, but I drive right over the 2-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) every Wednesday on the way to Elsa's pony lesson.

I pointed it out to Elsa; she says they should move it so it doesn't bother the ponies.

SLAC is in the south San Francisco Bay area, south of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. The equestrian center is in the upper right corner of the above image. It is about a quarter inch wide and is sandwiched in between holes of the Stanford Golf Course. Pretty sad that horses have gotten squoze out in favor of golf. I guess that's okay, golf is probably going to get squoze out by apartment complexes built to house the horde of video gamers we are producing.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


I was just thinking about the defense budget. Rich and powerful people seek to influence our elected politicians to further their own interests. I inferred that to mean 'to help local businesses get a government contract' or some such. What I am finally realizing is that some of the richer and more powerful people seek to influence our elected government officials to wage war in some foreign land. It's a big step to look beyond our borders, many people are unwilling to look out there. Things are fine here, we've got food to eat, we've got something to complain about, and someone to complain to. What more could you want? Anyway, that's probably why you don't hear much about it. It's kind of a stretch to even think about it. But right now I am convinced that is the way things are. It's the only thing that makes any sense. In any case, that's the way things and the way things will be for the foreseeable future. No amount of rhetoric is going to change that. Besides, as soon as we have a new and 'improved' system, someone will be trying to game the system and we will soon have something really new and 'improved'.

I'm wondering if there might be reasons for the war in the Ukraine that I have not hitherto considered. For instance we know that the armaments business is very happy with the war. They're making money hand over fist building guns and bombs. And the defense guys are happy, they get to test out all their procedures for getting things done, which means the troops get some exercise, get familiar with their equipment and nobody is sitting around mopin'. It's like perfect for our military. They get to skirt the edges of a real danger zone, and if they are going to do that they need to be fully prepared in case the shit suddenly gets hot. Right now, things are relatively calm, Biden, as far as I know, hasn't called for air strikes on Moscow, and Washington D.C. hasn't been bombed. So, relatively calm.

So we might suspect that our domestic armaments industry and our military are very happy with it. But what if there might be a group of people who want to wage this war for another reason? Well, lemme see what I can come up with. Someone might have grown up in a little village somewhere in the disputed region of eastern Ukraine, and he had some kind of a dispute with a neighbor or a family member, and this grievance festered in him for the last umpteen years, but he is finally rich and powerful enough to smite that lying, degenerate, ungrateful twerp. So he tells the higher-ups in government and presto, the hand of god comes down on that village and smites that lying, degenerate, ungrateful twerp. 

You can make up your own variations to that. Check out the plots of some of the soap operas out there if you need any ideas. They've got some of the most twisted shit on this planet, and you know that truth is stranger than fiction, so, yeah, run with that.

The one the academics tell us about is the quest for resources. I dunno about minerals. Probably got some oil. Ukraine is a big farming country and they were a big industrial country, so I'm not sure what the resources are. The farming country is still there, it's not going away, but the people and the industrial base are taking a big hit. So maybe the war is intended to take the Ukrainians down a peg, make them more docile. I can't see that being a viable strategy, but maybe there's big money to be made in those conditions. All the big land and industry holders would get forced out and new guys would step in. So a zillion Ukrainians and a zillion Ukraine fortunes are destroyed. Your sacrifice is not forgotten, you made me richer than god, and for that I thank you. Well, we shall see if anybody says anything.


Sunlight coming through the leaves

I was sitting outside during the late afternoon and I saw a spectacle. Light from the sun was shining through a hole in the leaves of the trees and it formed a starburst of a multitude of thin rays of light emanating from the center. I tried to capture it with the camera but didn't quite. If you embiggenate the image, you can kind of see some of the effect near the center, but what I was seeing extended out so far that it would have filled the whole frame. It might be the shortcomings of the camera, or it might have been a trick of the eye. In any case it was pretty cool.

The hole in the leaves must have been pretty small because I could look right at it with my unshielded eyes. I probably avoided focusing on the center, but I could see it and it didn't produce any after effects.

The Illusion of Privacy

Redpitaya Logic Analyzer

The Feral Irishman posted a video yesterday where Gardiner Bryant that talks about how evil Google is and how they are invading your privacy and stealing all your secrets. The first few minutes where he gives us some basic background are good, but then we get over into the whole privacy argument. My view is that I don't care. 

If you have some kind of information that you want to keep secret, like where your stash of anti-tank land mines or where your chest full of gold doubloons are hidden, don't put it on the net. Period. There was that capo in some gangster movie whose important conversations were all carried out by whispering into people's ears. That's how you keep a secret, not by using a different browser.

Gardiner's argument about Google reminds me of a scene from The Merchant's War by Fredrik Pohl. Our hero, one Tennison Tarb, returns to Earth and walks out onto the street, but the street is packed with people, shoulder to shoulder all jostling each other as they try to go about their business. He happens across on an open piece of sidewalk about ten feet by twenty feet. It's wide open, there is no one there. There are no barriers keeping anyone from entering that area, but still there is no one there. Our dude sees this as an oasis and walks into it where he is immediately assaulted by a loud, specially formulated ad that is designed to make him addicted to some kind of cola. Later on we find these 'oases' are marked with 'prominently displayed' signage due to a court ruling. When these first appeared, it didn't take long for people to figure out there were a hazard to your health and peace of mind and now everyone knows. Everyone except people like our hapless hero.

I see the ads go by when I am surfing the web, but I grew up watching television - I long ago learned to ignore the ads. Perhaps some people are unable to ignore the ads. Those people might be well advised to switch to Firefox

Anyway, onto more insidious stuff. Something in the video prompted me to look up the Intel Management Engine and what I found is some really low level creepy. From Wikipedia (edited):

The Intel Management Engine (ME) is an autonomous subsystem that has been incorporated in virtually all of Intel's processor chipsets since 2008. It is located in the Platform Controller Hub of modern Intel motherboards.

The Intel Management Engine always runs as long as the motherboard is receiving power, even when the computer is turned off. This issue can be mitigated with deployment of a hardware device, which is able to disconnect mains power.

Difference from Intel AMT

The Management Engine is often confused with Intel AMT (Intel Active Management Technology). AMT runs on the ME, but is only available on processors with vPro. AMT gives device owners remote administration of their computer, such as powering it on or off, and reinstalling the operating system.

However, the ME itself is built into all Intel chipsets since 2008, not only those with AMT. While AMT can be unprovisioned by the owner, there is no official, documented way to disable the ME.


The subsystem primarily consists of proprietary firmware running on a separate microprocessor that performs tasks during boot-up, while the computer is running, and while it is asleep. As long as the chipset or SoC is supplied with power (via battery or power supply), it continues to run even when the system is turned off. Intel claims the ME is required to provide full performance. Its exact workings are largely undocumented and its code is obfuscated using confidential Huffman tables stored directly in hardware, so the firmware does not contain the information necessary to decode its contents.

First, note this statement: 

"This issue can be mitigated with deployment of a hardware device, which is able to disconnect mains power." 

is contradicted by this one: 

"As long as the chipset or SoC is supplied with power (via battery or power supply), it continues to run even when the system is turned off."

Just so we are clear, unplugging the power cord isn't going to stop it. The battery on the motherboard is enough to keep it alive. If you really want to stop you need to unplug it from the internet and the power outlet. And put it in a Faraday cage so no radio (like Cell phone, Wifi or Bluetooth) signals can get through.

If you really wanted to know what was going on, you'd want to know what was in those Huffman tables. Figuring that out might be a bit of a trick. You could, if you had good people skills, go out and talk to Intel employees until you found the guys who designed these tables and then using dastardly secret agent techniques get them to spill the beans. Problem with this method is that even if they hand over the tables, they might not be correct.

The other way, the hammer and tongs way, is to hook up the chip to a logic analyzer, step through the code and record what the relevant pins are doing. Might have to write some special code to exercise the chip in specific ways to get it to exercise the full extent of those tables.

You are still not done because now you get to look at all those traces and try and deduce what kind of logic produced them. 

If you have gotten this far and you also happen to have the secret table that you managed to squeeze out of the Intel engineer, you are liable to find that the table does not match what you found. Could be a deliberate error, or an error made in translating to hardware. 

Which reminds me of the bit of speculating I did about back doors in exported weapons. They could easily be there, in any equipment with any kind of solid state electronics and you would never know without doing a microscopic, destructive, layer by layer scan of all of the electronic chips.

Byron Goes to Reno

Reno Unlimited Silver Course Entry Saturday Sep 16, 2023
Byron Seward

Very cool.


Connections - New York Times Game

New game in town. Like Wordle, there is a new puzzle every day. Some of them are easy, some are difficult and some are impossible. Often, a category is determined by similarities between the objects the words demarcate (there's got to be a less pretentious way to phrase that). Sometimes they aren't, sometimes it's the kind of word or how it's spelled or, I dunno, how they were used in a movie. Some of these categories are way out there. What makes it tricky is some words can fall into more than one category and only by judicious juggling can you find four groups of four.

P. S. I play their games, but I don't read their stories, not since they caught lying a couple of times. I imagine most of their stuff is probably pretty accurate, albeit slanted, but their sterling reputation has been tarnished so they are not be trusted.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Rescue Led Me To This!

Here we are again with another video from Matt's Off Road Recovery. Matt is my hero, he's living the life I would have liked, except I'm an old grump and don't generally like dealing with people. But building machines to do something, and designing improvements by the seat of your pants and then hammer-and-tongs getting after it and getting it built, that part is great. I had a job like that once, but it's only now, 50 years later, that I realize how much I enjoyed it. I probably could have made a career out of it if I had just cut my hair. Making a few connections might have helped, which I probably could have done, if I had cut my hair. I was in Houston for god's sake in 1975 with hair down past my collar. Dab burn hippie. Gave up my one true calling, moved to Austin, became a long-neck and started messing about with computers. That kept me busy, made me some money, and now here I am reminiscing about the life I could have had. If I had just cut my hair.

Matt is a Viking. He has red hair and a beard. He doesn't wear a jacket when it's cold. He never wears gloves even when he's picking up hot metal, which he immediately regrets. He doesn't do it often, but he never fricking wears gloves. If I was there I would be putting on gloves when I walked in the gate.

This particular video is great for several reasons. One, we have Lite Brite's super modified Jeep - Step Child on the screen. Two, we have serious rock crawling with spotters and vocal directions and discussions about lines of attack and what the possible outcomes are. It's kind of nuts, but if you were ever in a situation where you had to cross uncharted wilderness in a vehicle, these would be good things to know. Three, we have buxom Brittany Williams on the screen. She certainly got my attention. Her husband, Kevin, is a lucky man. Seems they were both into drifting (making cars slide around on pavement without smashing into anything), so she ain't just a pretty face. Damn, she's good lookin'. I got the impression that Kevin is kind of a big wheel. Good for him. I hope it all works out. Here's the intro to their channel:


Automotif Colors

Tam posts pictures of cool rides she spies cruising her neighborhood. In these posts she usually tells you the color, but she doesn't give you the common names like 'red' or 'black' or 'white', no, she gives us the official factory name of the color. If you've ever looked at new car color charts you know what I mean. There are no simple colors, they are all weirdly specific. Here's a few:
Back when I was selling Chevies, in the mid/late-80s, I sold a Chevy Nova (the NUMMI-built Toyota Corolla that was about to become the Geo Prizm) that had been sitting on the lot for a while.

It needed an ashtray, so while the customers were in the box with the F&I guy, I ran back to the parts department and asked for a Nova ashtray. The parts counter guy asked what color. “Dark brown”, I replied.

He came back and deposited the bagged part on the counter, saying “Here’s your Midnight Driftwood ashtray.”

I’ve had a low-key fascination with automotive color names ever since.



I've put up 517 posts so far this year. There are also a couple dozen posts I started but haven't gotten around to finishing. Problem is that some of these posts require a well functioning brain. Many posts don't: steal a picture, write a caption and a couple of sentences about it and move on. Some require more than two brain cells in order to communicate what's going on in my head, and if my head is foggy, that doesn't happen, so those posts become drafts. Very sad. Maybe things will improve now that my hip joint got replaced.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Imagine you're in a gangster movie from 40's or 50's and a copper comes into your office and you're talking. It could be hostile talking or pleasant conversation, it doesn't matter. Whatever, you and the copper are talking and he asks you about the matchbook on your desk. What do you tell him? Well, let me tell you what I'd tell that copper, I'd say* 'What? You don't have one on your desk? It's like if you carry a pocketknife. It's like being a Boy Scout, be prepared'.

* now that I've had fifteen minutes to ruminate on the situation. I went through a zillion little scenarios before landing on this one. I just changed the tense on that verb. Because somebody said: active voice is better than passive voice? It was 'I landed' and now it is 'landing'. Is 'landed' passive and 'landing' active?

Sump Pump

Disassembled Sump Pump & Tools
Tally-wacker is at the top, underneath the awl and the screwdriver
Utilitech 1/3 HP Pedestal Sump Pump

I took the sump pump apart yesterday. It was surprisingly easy. The screw heads were rusted, but they were screwed into a plastic body so they came out easily. The Phillips head cross on the head of one of the screws had been completely obliterated. If you looked carefully, you could make out where it had been. I had to use my custom talley-wacker, carved from a genuine imitation war-surplus machete (that got broken in the heat of battle with a stupid tree) to restore the cross. Put the tip of me talley-wacker in the center of the screw, align the blade with one leg of the Phillips head cross and give a wack with my patented cheater pipe (specially flattened to fit the handle of of Craftsman 3/8" drive ratchet). Repeat three more times for the other three legs and I had enough of a cross to turn the screw. Screws-in-plastic is great. With a pump with any kind of metal body, those screws would have been so corroded it would have been an even bet whether you could get them out or they would break off. The plastic parts on this pump made disassembly a breeze.

The motor is connected to the impeller with a plastic drive shaft. It looked like it was secured with a blind roll pin. Roll pins usually go all the way through, but there's always someone looking for a way to cut corners. Only after I tried drilling one out did I realize it was an Allen screw. Where did my shop bifocals get to?

I could have looked for parts, but I suspect it would have been a pain in the neck, they'd have to be ordered from lower Elbonia and take three weeks to get here via FedEx (service from Elbonia is notoriously slow). Or I could just order a new pump with an integrated SWITCH for $60 from Amazon and have it here tomorrow.

Actually, the reason I didn't want to repair the pump is because it had fallen over and I suspect that is what led to its demise. I have a five gallon bucket embedded in a gravel pit in the pump room. There is a french drain that dumps into this gravel pit. There used to be water coming in from this drain, but then I got some serious drain control around the front of the house and the water problem diminished considerably. Still, the five gallon bucket is full of water, so I need a pump.

CRAFTSMAN 36-Tooth 3/8-in Drive Raised Panel Handle Ratchet

Previously I had used little short pumps with a float attached via a length of power cord. The cord would let the float flop around. There is a switch inside the float. When the float finds itself in the upward position, the switch closes and the pump turns on. When the water level falls, the float falls. When the float is in the downward position, the float opens and the pump turns off. They work fine except the pump is sitting in a five gallon bucket and if the pump shifts it will trap the float against the wall of the bucket and it will never turn off. Burned out two pumps that way. 

The bucket isn't much bigger than the pump, and vibration from the motor running was probably enough to cause it to shift position. I don't understand why this last pump fell over. Normal operation shouldn't cause that. Poltergeists, I suppose.


Anyway, bought this one from Amazon. The integrated switch is new. Didn't used to exist. Ask Amazon for a 'sump pump with an internal float switch' and it gives me pages of such pumps. Click on the first one and it looks good, but where's the switch? There is no mention of a switch anywhere in the description. Drove me nuts. I asked for a pump with an integral switch, but there's no switch here. WTF Amazon? Only much later did I realize it's an 'automatic' pump, 'switch' is too technical a term. Packaged for your protection and it only costs $10 more. Same marketing technique as Honda, Apple, Sony and now Tesla. Make up new, fuzzy names for elementary technical items that half the population can't seem to grok.

The plastic parts of the old pump are trash, but the motor is still good. Anyone need a 1/3 HP electric motor?


A couple of headlines that hit my eye this morning.

US national debt passes new landmark

US national debt is now $33 trillion dollars. What does that even mean? Let's take a look.

        Price of gold in 1960:         $36.50 per ounce
        Price of gold now:          $1,954.20 per ounce

        National debt in 1960:    $286 billion
        National debt now:     $33,000 billion

        National debt now:         527,763 tons of gold
        National debt in 1960:     244,863 tons of gold

Why pick 1960? Peak America? Because it's a round number? Because I was only nine years old and didn't know any better? Because I used it the other day looking at car prices?
Anyway, measuring the national debt in dollars, it is 115 times larger than it was in 1960, but if you measure it in gold, it is only slightly more than twice as large. Which means the dollar is only worth about 2% of what it was in 1960. It likewise means that that Popsicle that cost 7 cents at the corner store in 1960 should now cost three and half bucks. There might be fancy concoctions at your local 7-11 that would cost that much, but I suspect that is the high end.

What ho! Is something actually going to happen? Silly boy, the story is about Israel, not about the Rhinos suddenly growing a spine.


Monday, September 18, 2023


Most Valuable Professional Sports Teams

Unlike my wife, I am not a big sports fan. I can watch a bit of professional basketball and college football, because that's what she watches, but if the competition isn't close I soon lose interest. I find the ads during football games more interesting, probably because we're starting a new season with a new bunch of ads. I do not understand the attraction. Well, I sort of do, we are basically pack hunting animals and sports are a civilized way of channeling those instincts into something harmless but entertaining. There have been occasions when I have gotten swept up in the excitement, but there haven't been many and they don't last long.

Somebody told me about a friend of a friend, a blue collar worker, spent $21,000 for Super Bowl tickets one year. I cannot fathom making such a purchase. 70,000 seats at $8K a piece is half a billion dollars, and that's only for one game. What an empire.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Thursday's Widows - Trailer (Official) | Season 1 | Netflix

This was a curious kind of show. We have several married couples, most with kids, living in a gated community somewhere in Mexico. They are rolling in loot, or are they? Seems fortune has frowned on a couple of the husbands and another catches the jealousy disease so things are going downhill fast. We see people doing things, going places, talking to others and most of it is pretty ordinary, but every so often the crazy comes out. After a while you begin to realize these people are not normal. They are out there on the fringe, just barely hanging on.

I want to say that the show focused on the women, but my wife disagrees. Perhaps I feel that way because I was totally familiar with the men's behavior so I pretty much dismissed it. Some of the women's behavior though, from my point of view, just didn't make any sense at all. I guess maybe that's what made it intriguing. 


I am still reading A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge. I'm kind of slow, I read maybe a chapter a day, which I feel is about ten pages. It's a big book, and there's lots of chapters, so it's taking me a while.

Throughout the book Vern tells time by the number of seconds, be it hundred or a thousand or a million. I'm comfortable with numbers, so I can generally figure out the amount of time we are talking about. Unfortunately I never remember those values so every time I run into a time, if I care about the amount of time, I have to do those calculations again. I wanted a scale that had both our conventional times and Vern's base-10 devoted system. It would need to be a logarithmic scale in order to accommodate all of our values. So I went prowling the net - and found bupkis. I did find one suggestion on how it might be done in javascript and html, but that's a lot of work, and I've already got a stack of obscure stuff to wade through. So I just compiled a list to see what I'm dealing with.

Some useful approximations:
  • One thousand seconds, a Ksec, is about a quarter of an hour.
  • One hundred thousand seconds is a little more than a day, 
  • a million seconds is like a week and a half, 
  • two and half million makes a month
  • 30 million makes a year
  • 300 million makes a decade
  • 3 billion makes a century
  • 30 billion makes a millenium
P. S. The list at the top is an embedded Google spreadsheet. I'm not sure whether embedding a list from a spreadsheet is worthwhile. It's great if that spreadsheet is going to get updated. If that happens, the blog post will show the new stuff, but I don't think that's going to happen here. The problem with embedding the spreadsheet is having to manually adjust the height and width parameters to show all of the data and nothing else. As you can see, there is still some white space on the right side and the bottom. I probably went back and forth a dozen times between the html and Blogger's preview. Pain in the neck. The other way is to just take a screenshot and embed it as an image. That has its own set of hoops to jump through, but I am familiar with them.

P. P. S. Kind of funny that everyone uses the same time standard of seconds, minutes and hours. The second is kind of universal - it's a heartbeat. The minutes and hours part though, I wonder where it came from. I suspect it came from European clock makers during the Renaissance (Bayou, I'm looking at you), but who knows? Maybe they got it from Chinese clock makers a zillion years ago. Someone should investigate.

P. P. P. S. Editing a spreadsheet to get it to 'look' like you want takes me a lot of fiddling around, but Google does offer lots of options. I know how to find most of what I want, changes appear immediately, you don't have to go look at a 'preview', and it's useful for things besides lists.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Fishing Boat

30-foot aluminum diesel powered waterjet bowpicker

Nephew Nick seems to be getting serious about fishing. He's been working on other people's boats for a few years and now he's thinking about buying his own. This boat is in Cordova, Alaska, home to a big fish processing plant. There are no roads to Cordova and this boat is not suitable for open water, so presumably he would stay in that area and fish the inlets and the Copper River (Wikipedia).

Copper River and Cordova, Alaska

Supposedly this boat can be operated by one man, though I think a two man team would be a better choice. It would cost roughly $100K. It might work out, but it is 30 years old, and there is a bunch of complicated equipment on board, so you might want to be at least somewhat competent mechanically.


MIKOYAN MiG-27 Bahadur (N23UB)


There is a small room in the basement under our house, the pump room, that holds a sump pump and a trash pump. The space under the stairs adjoins it. That space is good for storing stuff you might need one-of-these-days. Since you have to go through the storage room to get to the pump room and then go around the corner to get to that space, it's easy to forget about it. My wife and I did talk about it briefly last week.

When we built the house, there were some pieces of flooring left over that we stashed there just in case the flooring ever got damaged and we had to repair it. Ten or twenty years ago we got the house recarpeted and we did the same thing over again. Now we're remodeling which mean changing out the floor coverings again. Yesterday the trash truck was here to pick up the remodeling debris and my wife got the bright idea that we should haul all of that old carpet out of the hidey-hole and add it to the trash pile. It was more work than I've done in a while and it pretty much wiped me out. I don't know whether it's because I am old of because I became debilitated from having a bum leg for the last year (or two?). Whatever, we got it done so now I have more space put stuff. Yay.

The Economics of Artillery Shells in the Russo-Ukrainian War

There is an ad for a video game from 2:14 to 3:31.

It occurs to me that all the leaders of countries are jockeying for position on the world stage. Sometimes it's just economic warfare of one kind or another and sometimes push leads to shove and we get to the shooting stage. That's the way it's been throughout history and the way it's going to be.

I got to thinking about how many countries use weapons from other countries and how the United States sells weapons to a bunch of other countries, all allies now, but who knows what next week will bring? So I'm thinking, if I was a devious kind of guy, I would put some back doors in those weapons that only I knew about, back doors that would allow me to render the weapon inert or possibly even activate the weapon. And I wouldn't do it to just complete weapons, I'd do it to any kind of weapons components that were getting exported, especially to those that were getting smuggled to enemies of the regime.

All the fuss that gets made whenever we find that someone has been exporting some kind of armament technology might just be a cover to make the enemy think they have scored something that will give them a leg up. Of course, all this presupposes that there is a hyper-competent, ultra-secret operation that could coordinate all this. There might be, but it's not part of the US administration. They can't even effing tie their shoes.

That might be why you are not worried about North Korea's nuclear ambitions, because you know that if there ever get to the point where they have a rocket that can actually deliver a warhead, and they launch one in anger, you can push a button and blow it up where it sits.

Diamond Lake

I'm reading A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (Goodreads) and in Chapter 35, page 365, they are talking about setting up a park inside a 200 meter diameter cavern that they have carved out of a giant diamond. The diamond is roughly cubical and measures about a thousand meters on a side. Don't ask me where they got it, probably found it out wandering around in the asteroid belt of the On-Off star system. This diamond rock, along with all their stuff, is floating around in space at L1 which sits them hanging in limbo between the planet and the star.

Now they are talking about putting a lake in this park, a park that will only have microgravity at best and I'm thinking how could this possibly work? If you leave it undisturbed and there is the least hint of gravity or centrifugal force, it should form a pool on one side of the cavern, but you so much as breath on it you're liable to get Tsunami. Mr. Vinge wants them to drop a bunch of micro-widgets into the lake and the, through the power of modern computers, will counteract all the wrong impulses in the water and force it to behave. Okay, Vern, I think you've stepped over the line here.

Maybe I'm being too hasty. Every seen the ripples generated in water when a strong audio sound is applied? So maybe having a battalion of micro-actuators could be made to counteract any activity on the surface. But we've still only got micro-gravity to pull the water back down. I could see this quickly getting out of control. The only solution I see is start pushing this giant rock with a rocket, which could happen, they have some big rockets in this story. Well, that is until someone invents some kind of gravity control, which I don't think is ever going to happen. Centrifuges, rockets and mass are going to remain the sole methods of affecting gravity now, forever and always.

Bob McDemus VVD P004 V001 1920x1080 R001 August 2023

Not the greatest video, I found the super bouncy young guy super annoying, but maybe that's just me. It does give you some idea of what Thermal Spray is (Wikipedia page).

I get an occasional newsletter from Thermal Spray Guy and this video was included. The newsletter opens with this list:

There is a wide range of thermal spray applications that are commonly known:
    • Corrosion protection for bridges
    • Dimensional restoration of diesel engine blocks and heads
    • Thermal barrier coatings on aerospace turbine blades
    • CP titanium and hydroxyapatite bone growth alloys for medical implants
    • Ceramic materials for electrical insulation applications
Most of those are beyond me, but "Dimensional restoration of diesel engine blocks and heads", that's something I can wrap my head around. With all the equipment, knowledge and experience needed to perform such work, it's not something you would want to try in your garage. If you had an expensive engine that needed such work, and there was a competent thermal spray shop within driving distance, it could be viable solution. 

That axle that Wes was working on could have used some of it, except even attempting to repair it didn't pencil out.

The Eagle Official Trailer #1 - (2011) HD

When we started watching The Eagle I suspected we had seen it before, but no. Centurion was the movie I was thinking about. Centurion is about the loss of Rome's 9th Legion. This movie is about the son of the commander going north of Hadrian's Wall to retrieve their standard, a gold eagle.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Ford Differential Carnage - Driveline Noise Located

I found this video amazing: the bearings failed but the big gears survived. The carrier bearings got spun and the case no longer holds them. It looks like it is going to be straight forward repair, but then he adds up the prices and all of a sudden a used axle out of the junkyard looks like a better deal. Can you imagine a factory that could produce these axles in such volumes that perfectly good ones get sent to the junkyard? Okay, we get an axle from the junkyard and all we have to do is swap out the old one and install the new one. How hard can it be? Well, not too tough, just a whole lot of hammer and tongs.

He does some slight of hand with the video that's amusing and then there's the business of lining up big heavy pieces so they fit together. Wes is frankly amazing. It's too bad that he seems to need a special tool for every stinking step.

USA-UK Hybrid Hot Rod

1929 Ford Model A - Tamara Keel

Tam often posts photos of unusual cars she has seen in her neighborhood. This one looks like a typical American hot rod until you look under the hood and see a made-in-Britain DOHC Cosworth four-banger. Cosworth engines are famous for powering Lotus sports cars, a variety of racing cars, and a handful of Chevrolet Vegas.

Gun Girl

Gun Girl

Riders of Skaith has an excellent review of the science fiction novel Battle for the Stars wherein we find this triggering phrase:

It’s almost as good as the trick where someone ends up manning the antiaircraft guns whilst scantily clad, which Hamilton was also good at.

So I had to go find a pic. Lots of pics out there of sci-fi babes. Many of them are holding guns, but not too many of them wielding guns in a combat setting.

Ventusky Hurricane Lee

Ventusky Hurricane Lee

This Ventusky thing is pretty cool. Zoom in, zoom out, change your altitude, look at a dozen different elements of weather. There is a heck of a network of computers and instruments collecting data, processing it, and funneling it through a stack of systems a mile high all to deliver this animated view of the weather. I suspect most of the data comes from NOAA which is funded by magic money from Congress. Your taxes? That's just the vig on the national debt.

Via The Feral Irishman

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Modern Cars

Unleashing the Torx-Wrench Wizardry for Blend Door Gear Actuator Replace...

Modern cars. Relatively cheaper*, better, longer lasting but more encrusted you useless geegaws. Once they've been around the block a couple of times those little gee-gaws start breaking. Mostly it's of no consequence, you just quit using that gizmo that wasn't really all that useful anyway and you just press on. But eventually some little gizmo that actually does something useful, like heat the inside of your  car breaks and then we get into situations like the one in the video.It may not be exactly like this one, but the vent system on all cars is a horribly convoluted mess crammed in between the dashboard and the firewall. Doing almost anything usually requires taking the dashboard out. However, if you can cobble together a special tool that will allow to make the required repair without having to take the dashboard out, well, it's dang well worth it.

When they designed the car, they probably figured the car would be in the junkyard before the gizmo broke, so no, we're not going spend 50K redesigning it to make it beefier or easier to repair.

This resonates with me because the heater quit on the SUV so it needs to go into the shop. I don't know if they are going to be able to do anything with it, but i'll give 'em a shot.

P. S. On account of I used the word 'dang', I remembered this tune:

Roger Miller "Dang Me"

* relatively speaking. Car prices in 1960 were $2,752 while gold was $36.50 an ounce, which meant a new car was worth a little over four and a half pounds of gold. A new car now can be had for $20K and with the price of gold running right around $2K, that means a new car is worth about 10 ounces of gold, less than one pound.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Sorcerer 1977 trailer HD remaster

We saw this movie at the Hollywood Theater last night. A man with a microphone gave us a little history of the director William Friedkin. Friedkin is the same director who gave us The French Connection and The ExorcistSorcerer was a bit of a flop, in part due to it's coming out at the same time as Star Wars.

Sorcerer is based on the same novel as the 1953 movie Wages of Fear. In both movies, the essential part of the plot is the same:
The film centers on a group of four down-their-luck European men who are hired by an American oil company to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, loaded with nitroglycerine needed to extinguish an oil well fire.

The name Sorcerer comes from one of the dilapidated trucks they are using to transport the explosive, in this movie the explosive is old 'sweating' dynamite that is unstable.

There is very little dialog and most of it is unintelligible, I never developed any empathy for any of the characters. 

The film is almost entirely action. There are two parts to the movie. In first part we get four short stories about how the four men got into the trouble that forced them to flee to this jungle hamlet. The well dressed man shoots a man in a room at a hotel with a gun equipped with a silencer. The curly haired guy is a freedom fighter/terrorist whose group has been found out. The Frenchman had been engaged in some shady business deals and if he can't come up with a large sum of cash to make things right, he's going to jail. Roy Scheider and three other thugs rob a Catholic church in New Jersey where they are consolidating the donations from several churches. Roy crashes their get-away car in spectacular fashion. He manages to crawl away and get on a ship headed for parts unknown.

These four end up in a shanty town in the jungle that exists only because an American company is drilling for oil and they need workers to build the pipeline and operate the drilling rig. Then we have the explosion and fire at the drilling rig. If they can't put out the fire and get the rig back into production, the whole project is going to get canceled, so they are desperate for a way to put out the fire. Then someone turns up this old stash of dynamite sitting and rotting in an old shed. Problem is, the shed is 200 miles from the fire. They consider flying it with helicopter, but they suspect the vibrations would set off the explosive. No sense risking an expensive helicopter when we have a bunch of old, junk trucks and a bunch of desperate men willing to drive them.

One highlight is the scene where a truck is crossing a gorge on a very rickety wooden bridge that is collapsing out from under them. Another is where they have to cross a river on a very sketchy suspension bridge in driving rainstorm. Then there's the scene where they rig up a booby trap to blow up giant tree trunk that has fallen across the road.

Three of the four men die during the trip. Roy survives long enough to collect the promised loot, but instead of leaving he stops to dance with the washer woman. And who should show up? The imported hit man sent by the guys in New Jersey.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Snabba Cash | Official Trailer | Netflix

This show is a little bit different. We have a young immigrant woman trying to break into the big leagues with a fancy software program, but she lives in the projects which is rife with gangsters, drug dealers and shootings, and she has relatives operating in the drug business. So far it's pretty good. There are like four main characters and dozen or so people from each of the worlds she operates in: the money world of high stakes venture capital, the restaurant where she works and the gangsters. We shall see if any of them make it through season one alive.

Near as I can tell, the gangsters in this show are involved in mid level distribution, they sell to guys who sell on the street. They in turn get their drugs from a higher level distributor who gets them from an importer. The are a wild bunch as you might expect, and obsessed with real security, as in who can you trust.

P. S. Midway through season one our Leya does something inexplicable which leads to a cascading series of disasters. The disasters are almost predictable, but the reason for her action is still missing. Did she just temporarily lose her mind? Given her situation that seems the most logical conclusion. Or maybe the writers just needed a trigger to set off this cascading series of disasters. It's a puzzlement.

1927 Cummins Model P

This image got me started.

Cummins and his first diesel

Google found this on the Cummins website:
May 15, 2015

Of all the Cummins race cars, none is as well-traveled as the 1931 No. 8 Cummins Diesel. From the famous Indianapolis speedway to a tour round the world, the No. 8 car was the model for efficiency and reliability.

Cummins founder Clessie Cummins originally installed his 4-cylinder model U engine in a Duesenberg chassis and in February 1931, drove it to Daytona Beach and set a new diesel speed record averaging 100.755 miles per hour (mph).

In May of 1931 Clessie took the Cummins-Powered Duesenberg as the No. 8 Cummins Diesel to the Indy 500 and finished 13th with an average speed of just over 86 mph. It was the first car in racing history to complete all 500 miles without any pit stops.

The No. 8 car wasn’t retired after the race. Cummins founders W.G. Irwin and Clessie Cummins drove it on a European tour through France, Monaco, Italy, Germany and England to promote the efficiency and reliability of the diesels.

So now I'm looking for some information about this Model U engine. Wikipedia coughs up:

The Cummins Engine Company was founded in Columbus, Indiana, on February 3, 1919, by mechanic Clessie Cummins and banker William Glanton Irwin. The company focused on developing the diesel engine invented 20 years earlier. Despite several well-publicized endurance trials, it was not until 1933 that their Model H engine, used in small railroad switchers, proved successful.

So two years after the founders made their world tour, business came their way. So now I'm looking for this Model H engine, but I'm not getting anywhere. Probably because there's only three guys who have the info and they're so old they don't even know about the internet. So instead of anything useful, we get to watch this even older engine get run through it's paces.

Can you imagine trying to set up a factory to build an engine? Now-a-days to be competitive, you would probably need a billion dollars. There are a few specialty shops building engines, big and small. I wonder if any of those small shops are casting their own iron blocks? Casting iron is a big deal, not like casting aluminum. That crazy old coot who rode the The World's Fastest Indian was casting pistons in his backyard. Casting iron takes a lot of heat. How much, you ask? Let's see what we can find.


A good rule of thumb is 25 kWh of useful energy to heat each ton of material by each 100ºC. (1) Thermodynamics 101. Heating and melting materials requires energy, inducing particles to vibrate more (specific heat) and ultimately to break the bonds that hold them together as a solid or liquid (latent heat).

Density of iron is 7.874 grams / cc. Density of aluminum is like 2.7 grams / cc, so iron is three times as dense as aluminum so the same size object would weigh three times as much and require three times as much energy. Except iron has a much higher melting point than aluminum. Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees C, iron melts at 2800 degrees C, so, assuming we are heating the metal on a cold winter's day, iron is going to take:

(7.874/2.7) * (2800/1200) = 6.8 times as much energy to heat to the melting point as aluminum.