Travels and Images
WEEK 11 2005
Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week
Picture of the Week
Saturday 19 March
- still coding and debugging. Tomorrow I am out of town visiting
friends, so I am trying to make up for missing part of Monday. It's
rather gray and miserable out, so it's a good day to be working inside.
Tomorrow is the vernal equinox - the daylight and the night will be
equally long ( well, not when measured in microseconds and such, but close
enough for building Stonehenge and such.)
Friday 18 March
Friday - working away.
I like the new laptop, it really helps me work more productively.
Unfortunately it doesn't help me program, it just runs the programs. Drat.
I stepped out to the Home and Garden show, out at the fairgrounds, for
lunch with some friends. Interesting. Lot's of little booths selling
this or that 'improvement'. We got a kick out of the lady using fear to
sell cookware - as we walked by she was going on and on about the
horrors of cooking in aluminum pans. Then there was the guy selling
garlic from Gilroy, the various contractors for pools, sidewalks and
patios, the plant people, landscape people, and so on.
For you motorcycle riders, this is weird. Using bits of spark plug to make crack pipes. Bizarre.
I found an extension for Firefox that is kind of neat. Stumble On
is sort of link generator that allows you to specify general
categories, and then then sends to you various pages and allows you
rate the links you get, thus supposedly, improving the chances that
you'll find something interesting.
Color an Easter Egg, on line, See the Earth's Population Change, some Jokes to Play in an airport, and the Beard and Mustache Championship page. All from Stumble On - hey, I never claimed it was serious stuff.
Thursday 17 March 2005
- Heh. FORTRAN is still hanging in there....
I just don't have time to read those 'classics'. Ultra Condensed Classic Books may be for me!
In sad news, Andre Norton has died.
As I once wrote, I was first attracted to science fiction by Hal
Clement's "Needle", but it was the library's collection of Andre Norton that
closed the deal. The Witch World, the Beast Master, Time Traders, and
many other books, ideal for a young and curious mind. Her own web site
is here. And, well, I assumed that it was a woman, at the time. I mean, who ever heard of a man name Andre?
Ah, I remember this particular cover:
[links via Dean Esmay]
Wednesday 16 March 2005
Wednesday - hmmm. The Tivo gets about 3/4
of the way through the 'Guided Setup' and resets. There doesn't seem to
be a way to get around the GS (as it is called in the forums). Bummer.
But it is apparently quite hackable, so if it proves to be a show
stopper I can have fun with disassembling it.
You probably recall "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper:
There is a famous variation of this, 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' by Helnwein:
James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, etc, in an alternate universe...
Just after the elections in November I thought to do a Photoshop,
putting all the democratic candidates in a diner. But I gave up the
idea because (a) I don't have a copy of Photoshop, and (b) I am not
much of an artist, and (c) so as to not annoy my relatives who voted
for the loser losing side, and (d) I'm an idea guy,
not an implementor. But if I had, then I would have put Kerry behind
the counter (first real job he ever had), Dean and the other hopefuls
at the bar, and Lieberman outside, collar turned up to the cold,
Maybe Edwards passed out dead drunk in the gutter and George Bush roaring by in a Cord. That might be too much though.
Hmmm. If my sister V, who is an artist, reads this, she may just be inspired to do a version with the Republicans. Accckkkk.
Heh. Anyway, I was reminded of that because a 'Diner' image has showed
up lately in a couple of places. The first is at the page where James Lileks has his Diner, a 'podcast', which is basically just a little audio show. Today's show had hash
as the special, some Peter Lorre stuff, his daughter stopping in for
spaghetti (with cheddar cheese!), and reminisces about hockey player
college apartment neighbors. The image is actually a JAVA applet, with
falling swirling snow.
The second is Pearls Before Swine, which is an amazingly sarcastic comic, and where there is a new collection out, "Nighthogs: A Pearls before Swine Collection".
Ok, it's not exactly
the same. Sue me. It's still a diner. Say's so on the front.
Tuesday - keeping busy. It looks like the
Tivo unit has never been used - the cables were still in the shrink
rap, the batteries hadn't been put in the remote, and the unit itself
still wrapped in packaging. Now I just have to get behind the
entertainment console to hook it up...
One of the cats seems a bit listless, sleeping upstairs rather than
being his usual rambunctious self. He didn't even come down for the
five o'clock feeding. Phoebe may have just eaten too much earlier - I
think he ate the other cats food this morning, but it's a concern. I'll
watch him to see what he does tomorrow.
The accursed beetles have now eaten two of my plantings - the zucchini
and the eggplant. Totally gone. They seem to be ignoring the tomato
plants, for now. I have sprinkled some diatomaceous earth about, which
beetles dislike but is not poisonous to people. It didn't save the
zucchini, though I may have applied it late.
Monday 14 March 2005
Monday - years ago a rear bulkhead failed
in a JAL B-747, causing damage to the hydraulics and tail assembly.
Rather than declaring an emergency and landing the crew elected,
rather, to call the office and see what they should do. They flew in
circles conversing with the ground for some time - and eventually the
plane crashed. It seemed unbelievable at the time that a professional
pilot would so fail in their duties to their passengers, but I am now
reminded of it.
We have a report of a BA 747
flying from Los Angeles to Heathrow losing an engine at takeoff and
electing to continue on, nonstop, only to be forced to make an
emergency landing in Manchester. Insane. Three hundred and fifty people were aboard. From the Times Online article:
Flying faulty jumbo across Atlantic saves BA £100,000
fault occurred on take-off from Los Angeles but the pilot declined all
opportunities to land in the US and instead continued on three engines
for 5,000 miles to Britain.
Turning back after engine failure would have left airline liable to pay out for delays under new rules on compensation
BRITISH AIRWAYS jumbo jet carrying 351 passengers was forced to make an
emergency landing after an 11-hour transatlantic flight with a failed
The incident happened three days after a European regulation
came into force requiring airlines to compensate passengers for long
delays or cancellations. Under the new rules, if the pilot had returned
to Los Angeles, BA would have been facing a compensation bill of more
Balpa, the British Air Line Pilots’ Association, gave warning
last night that the regulation could result in pilots being pressured
into taking greater risks for commercial reasons.
Then, the same plane,
a week later has another engine out problem. Not knowing the flight
route I can't say that there was an abort field short of their
destination, but it seems suspicious:
LONDON (Reuters) - A British Airways passenger jet was forced to shut
down one of its engines in mid-flight twice in one week after a
replacement engine failed, the airline said Friday.
In what BA described as a bizarre coincidence, the number two
engine on a Boeing 747-400 plane flying from Singapore to London was
shut down last month after the pilot received an oil pressure warning.
The aircraft, carrying 356 passengers, arrived safely in London
after flying for more than 10 hours on three of its four engines. The
747-400 is designed to fly safely on three engines
Then, a few days ago, an Airbus 310 loses it's rudder over the Atlantic, refuses to declare an emergency, and elects to fly back to it's point of origin in Cuba rather than land in the United States. From the Guardian article:
What made an Airbus rudder snap in mid-air?
Flight 961 literally began to fall apart at 35,000 feet, it increased
fears of a fatal design flaw in the world's most popular passenger jet
Sunday March 13, 2005
35,000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading
home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45 pm last Sunday,
the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder - a
structure 28 feet high - had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In
the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside.
the crew was able to turn the plane around, and by steering it with
their wing and tail flaps managed to land at their point of departure
in Varadero, Cuba, without loss of life. But as Canadian investigators
try to discover what caused this near catastrophe, the specialist
internet bulletin boards used by pilots, accident investigators and
engineers are buzzing.
Now, things fall off planes all the time. Generally smaller, less
important bits, but there are literally thousands of aircraft in the
air at any given time as the airlines try to keep them flying 24/7 to
make money, and things happen. It's possible that there are design and
maintenance flaws in the Airbus aircraft, if so, it will be discovered.
The worry, to me, is the decision to keep on flying rather than landing immediately, or in the case of the Airbus, without declaring an emergency.
Not knowing what caused the first engine failure one must, or rather should,
assume a higher probability of failure for the other engines. There is
a famous incident of a few years back where the same mechanic serviced
all the engines on a Lockheed Tristar - wrongly. In flight all three
engines lost oil pressure - the mechanic had made the same servicing
mistake on all the engines! With remarkable presence of mind the pilot
shut down the engines and glided to the nearest airport, then restarted them in the air and using the last of the oil, landed safely.
My understanding is that a B-747 can fly on two engines, even just two
on one side of the aircraft. Airspeed, controllability, sustainable
altitude and fuel efficiency all suffer, but it can, barely, stay in
the air. It would be an emergency for sure. But one engine or none?
As I recall the JAL incident was attributed to the airline worrying
about 'loss of face', i.e.. PR concerns. That was bad enough, but the
B-747 and A-310 incidents may well be motivated by money,
fear of new regulations imposing fines for flight delays. I don't think
I'd want to risk death to improve BA's end of the year statement, or of
Air Transat shareholder worth.
In fact, I'd recommend avoiding the european flagged airlines for the nonce. There may be a problem there.
Sunday 13 March
Sunday - One of Saturdays tasks was to
bring into the house a new (to me) loveseat to replace an old sofa
hide-a-bed. My good friend Tim was buying new furniture for his place
and offered it. Since the old hide-a-bed was:
this seemed like a good idea. But the old sofa was incredibly heavy, so
I had my friend Roger come over and help me move it out of the house
and into the back of the truck. Then we took it to the local dump -
where they informed me that I could have had it picked up for free,
curbside. We were already there, so I went ahead and paid to dump it.
- Hideously ugly
- Horribly uncomfortable
- Shredded by the cats
- Stained and smelling of cat pee
It is quite an operation out there. The carefully graded and layered
dump heap stands out on the flat valley floor. It is as if we were
driving up to a great pyramid, a thousand feet on a side; but
unfinished, only 100 feet or so high. What I hadn't thought through was
that the dirt that covers each layer of debris has to come from
somewhere. It comes, in fact, from a giant hole next to the pyramid.
Sort of an inverted mirror image, as it were.