WEEK 12 2013
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
Ago, This Week, 2009
This Week, 2010
Saturday - Another calm in the morning & windy as all get out in the afternoon type of day. And another perfectly clear in the morning and hazy overcast in the evening day. Well, so it goes.
various small errands and chores around the house. Mowed the lawns. I
still need to weed-n-feed and to edge. I also need to turn over the
planters, and turn in the extra potting soil I bought the other day.
One of the upstairs commodes has a bad fill valve, I bought another to
And the garage is still a major disaster area
(FEMA is now refusing to send teams in, after losing contact with the
first two sorties).
Book #11 was Midst Toil and Tribulation, by David Weber. This is the fifth or six book in the Safehold series. I've long since given up buying them, but read them when they turn up at the library.
- Not much going on. Warmer than it has been, and until mid afternoon
relatively windless. I took a little walk before lunch (only 3 miles,
since 5 bothered me last week). By mid-afternoon the wind was picking
up, probably into the 30mph range, and was still blowing strong when I
went to bed.
My lawns are starting to grow. I'll have to mow and edge them tomorrow.
means going and getting some gas for the mowers, since I used the last of the
portable gas can for a car that was out of gas last winter. Well, not
actually out of gas but so low on gas that when parked on an incline the fuel intake was uncovered.
NASA has shut down the NTRS,
their official site that publishes all the NASA and NACA technical
reports that they generate. The speculation is that there might
be secret information on the site. Which seems unlikely, but it's
definitely shut down.
Possibly related: a Chinese national
that had NASA access was arrested and removed from a plane about to
take off the other day, and a statement made that various countries
citizens (Iran, China, etc) would not be allowed onto NASA campuses.
Huh? Why were they allowed access in the first place?
stupidity of NASA's IT policies never fails to amaze. It was bad when I
was there and the reports I hear suggest it is even worse now.
Well, that didn't take long: Cyprus Officially Passes Capital Controls into Law.
other economic news, Venezuela continues to collapse. They elected a
communist because they had disparity, now they have ... nothing.
Thursday 21 March 2013
- Windy again. But the clouds are starting to clear, which is nice. Of
course, now it's a half moon, so any views of the comet will have to
compete with the stray moonlight.
of my trees have blossomed, the peach, the Asian pear, and the big
apple tree in the west yard. The one next to the peach hasn't, and I
should probably put some coddle moth traps out. It may be too late
already though. The fruitful mulberry is also budding. I should cut it
down, it's too close to the wall.
In other news the lawn(s) finally
needs mowing. It's been a few months, but the warmth and intermittent
rains have started it growing again.
remain interested in the Cyprus debacle. It's probably the biggest
fiscal screwup in the EU right now, and the most poorly handled. The
hasn't allowed the banks to re-open. Eventually they will have to, and
then I believe under EU law the depositors can withdraw and put their
money anywhere they want. And what sane person would leave it in a
Cyprus bank if they don't have to? Right now they are discussing a
"progressive" tax, rather than the initial flat tax, but it isn't going
to reassure anyone. If they don't do something the EU (Germany, with Merkel up for re-election) won't bail them out.
Even if the government stages some sort of "capital control" effort, people can generally avoid it.
One of Nevil Shute's books, Trustee From the Tool Room,
deals with people buying diamonds and then smuggling them out of
England after post WWII capital controls were instituted. John Vigor
writes in Small Boat to Freedom of putting all his money into gold coins and taking it out of South Africa, when that country didn't allow it.
people think it moral and proper to start avoiding the eye and grasp of
the government thief, things can go downhill rapidly. One of the
problems with Greece is the black market & economy, which some put
at about 50% of the GDP.
Untaxed, unregulated. Once a mattress stuffed with paper bills or gold
coins under the fireplace becomes more reasonable than a bank the
economy is going to tank. Once people start buying real property rather
than leave money in the bank to be confiscated, the economy will have
little or no capital to loan, to start new business, to tide over a
business hitting a rough patch.
If Cyprus does
get away with the tax, then the other Mediterranean PIIGS will
undoubtedly eventually try to emulate them. Which means depositors in those
countries, now looking ahead, will also start moving their money out of
Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian banks. German & Scandinavian
banks will prosper from all that money coming in though, so maybe
Merkel is just planning ahead. She may end up Chancellor for Life.
Wednesday 20 March
- This was the Spring Equinox, when I like to get out and take a
picture of the Sun rising or settings. Sadly it was overcast all day,
no pictures worth taking.
I'm tying to get back into the
flow of iOS programming, but it's been oddly difficult. I keep getting
distracted by various things, and being fairly unproductive when I do
get a few hours free to concentrate. Ah well, perseverance is a virtue,
slow and steady wins the race, etc, etc.
A friend had received a Nook
HD for a Christmas present, and she came over and I gave her lessons in
how to use it for email, web browsing, and Facebook. Not all of
it sank in, so she wants to come by tomorrow, which is fine.
- Not much to say, working on this and that.
Did I mention having to buy a
new wireless access point? The old one had been getting worse and
worse. I could stabilize it a bit by setting it on a block of blue ice,
but finally even that no longer worked. I thought I had a new one in a
box, but it turned out to be the old unit that I'd had before this
current unit (and WEP only). So I went out and bought a new one. It's
been an expensive ides of March, computer-equipment-wise. Nothing
crazy, all stuff I need, but still.
This current unit includes a
USB port, so that you can connect an external drive to it, accessible
from both Mac and Windows. It seems to work, I stuck a thumb drive in
there and they both seem able to see it. I suppose you could attach a
great big drive, terabytes, if you wanted.
Book #10 was The Magicians Nephew,
by C.S. Lewis. This is really more of a novelette, setting the
stage for the later Narnia series. It's definitely written at a YA
level. Lewis actually wrote the stories in non-chronological order, so
this might be considered, in modern parlance, a prequel, coming before The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I'd never read it before, but some of the scenes seemed oddly familiar. I finally realized that these scenes were replicated in Grossman's The Magicians and The Magician King (#116 and #117 respectively, in 2011), a homage to Lewis.
- Back in town. It was a bit windy, not as bad as Sunday evening. I
mostly just spent it working on some computer stuff. In the evening,
oddly, I got calls from four separate people. Usually it's zero...
Since the one evening last
week I've been unable to get out and take another comet picture. It's
been hazy, overcast, blowing at 30mph, and so on, then I've been out of
town. I'd like to get out with my tripod and external time lapse
controller and the camera set up for astrophotography, but haven't had
a chance. But the news from the work front isn't so good, so I may have
plenty of free time in the evenings.
Last Wednesday I broke down
and bought a larger monitor. The monitor I've been using was a 21"
Acer, and just wasn't cutting it, my eyes were watery and unable to
focus at the end of a day of use. When I was at Costco getting my tires
rotated on the Explorer I saw a nice Samsung 27" on sale for $230 and
bought that (after checking the price versus Amazon). It's clearly a
business expense, and I dearly needed it. I had planned to get one
after finishing the first app, but it makes more sense this way I
It's nice not to have to have the monitor resting at
the forward edge of the desk, and leaning forward to squint at Excel
and Xcode pages despite that. Now I can sit back and type. The last
time I was able to do that was when I had a huge CAD monitor at my desk at NASA in 2003.
In world news: Friday the
government of Cyprus announced that they were going to raid depositor's
bank accounts for cash over the weekend. By Sunday they were already
backpedaling on that. It's hard to imagine a worse move, if they wanted
to trash confidence in their banks they couldn't have done better.
Supposedly Cyprus is a laundry for Russian mobsters, so perhaps they
thought they (the mobsters) wouldn't complain? But, then, why trash the
In at least one place I've seen mention that
Russia was trying to lease offshore oil/gas field from Cyprus, and base
their naval fleet there, which means this bank stuff could all be some
sort of weird stratagem. Who knows?
- Another beautiful San Diego Day, and also St. Patrick's day! When I had
some spare time this weekend I have been sitting by the pool and reading, and therefore finally finished another book.
Book #9 was Captain
Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. This was light
science fiction, more a Georgian
Romance In Space than hard SF, but amusing enough for
I attempted to put a pigtail on the pool cover switch, but corrosion,
lack of proper tools, and time kept me from finishing that. Since the
solar water heating system is leaking on the roof the pool is still
un-swimmable, so a delay until next visit is OK. I left the pool cover motor breaker off at the house, just in case.
We did install insulation on the hot water pipes, and turned off the
water softening unit, and cleaned up various little issues around the
One outstanding issue was poor wifi connectivity downstairs. It was
adequate for surfing the net, but not for Netflix streaming. My friends
mother had a second router, a nice Linksys N900 that was advertised as
being capable of used as a repeater/bridge. And reading the manual, I determined
that was true
- as long as
you turned off the WPA security! Which makes it useless,
unless you want your network accessible from anyone in the
I thought of running about 100' of Ethernet cable in the house, but it
might present a bit of a tripping hazard for older people. If I wanted
to drill holes in the wall (and
if I had a drill with me, which I didn't) it'd be
about a 45' run.
After a bit of thinking I suggested we try one of the house
Ethernet-over-powerline systems that are available. So we made a trip
to Frys, picked up a pair of transceivers, and tried it. The sales
clerk Jose was honest and mentioned that they sometimes don't work if
the circuits use different breakers, but these actually worked pretty
darn well. Netflix streams easily, with perhaps one hiccup in a half
hour. Since it was
completely unwatchable before this turns out to be a satisfactory
At about 2pm we headed back to Lancaster. Traffic was moderate, heavier
than on Thursday night, but not awful. There was one damn fool that
passed, over a double yellow line, against traffic (us) on Hwy-138 but
generally things were OK. It was nice to get back home in the AV, where
it was blowing sand at 35mph across the road in the east valley! Riley
was happy to see me, and I was happy to see that the internal house
temperature was OK, after a couple of days of nearly 90F outside.
Way back in 2002 this blog's first week included a picture of comet Ikeya-Zhang taken from the
west Antelope Valley, so to celebrate this, the 11th Anniversary Week, nature has lined up another comet. I give you Picture of the Week, this time comet PANSTARRS (aka C/2011 L4)!