Travels and Images

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Sunday 24 March 2002
Since it was windy and cold, no gardening to speak of. I need to break up the earth in the flower beds to the rear of the house and put in some grass block, but it was just muck back there after the rain. Cleaning up around the house a bit, organizing the various magazines for triage.
It's hard to get rid of some of them, even when you realize that it is unlikely you will be looking at them again - 'Science News' for example, has lot's of near articles, cool pictures - but it comes weekly and it just isn't sensible to save them all. Heck, the junior college is nearby and they probably carry it as well should I ever need to refer back.
Installed a new power supply ($14.00, but hey, this isn't my main system) in one of the Abit machines. It now spins up the fans and drives, but emits a long unceasing beep, without any video. Hmmmm. That manual should be around here somewhere....

Monday 25 March 2002

I watched the Oscars for the first time in years. Well, the last hour or so, at some good friends. I was sort of rooting for "Fellowship of the Ring" and it did OK, but it was competing against "A Beautiful Mind", which was also a pretty good movie IMHO. Not that I see that many.
Monday was pretty good, for a Monday. We discovered the power supply was bad on the external drive, and found a place in Michigan that will sell us a new one, or a whole new (well, new to us) drive for $150. Decisions, decisions.
It was interesting to discover while searching on the web for sites with used RS/6000 equipment  that about a third of the links from Yahoo were useless to us. Some just didn't exist anymore, some were so slow as to be hopeless, one required Flash to run ( and since there aren't any Flash plugins for AIX that I know of, that means I couldn't use my main workstation for the search. Press on, press on...) One page loaded quickly, but had nothing of use on it. Not a single working hotlink.

Tuesday 26 March 2002

There was an announcement on tv this evening that apparently scenes or a trailer for "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" would be out shortly. Yes! It's been years since I read these books, but it's amazing the amount of detail that has stuck.
I just can't wait....
Work was a bit of a grind today with lots of hand editing of files. It should be easier I think, this is, after all, NASA. Oh well. Tomorrow we a taking one of the aeroelastic gurus here at Dryden out for a retirement lunch. Len Volker has always been my first resort with a question on anything aeroelastic, it's hard to imagine not having him a phone call away. I guess I could bug him at home :-) When I started work the X-29 was just about to make its first flight. Len had a chart on his wall:
Phases of an Engineering Project
(1) Enthusiasm
(2) Disillusionment
(3) Search for the guilty
(4) Punishment of the innocent
(5) Praise and Honors for the non-participants
He'd checked it off down to (4). Heck of a thing for a wet-behind-the-ears new hire to see! He claims that he doesn't remember it, but I certainly do.
Actually Len's always been a can do, enthusiastic sort of guy - it was just a bit of humor from a grunt down in the engineering trenches. The plane flew, landed, and everything was fine.

Wednesday 27 March 2002

Well, the retirement lunch for Len went off OK. We went over to the Officers Club at Edwards Air Force Base - ooops, I mean "Club Muroc". He plans to build a home-built aircraft, and to do some prospecting for gold, maybe write his memoirs.... An interesting thing about Club Muroc is that right in front of the main door is a reserved parking spot. Not for the general, or majors, or whoever, but for "Any 2nd Lieutenant". A nice touch I thought.
Wednesday night dinner was at the "Outback". That's two steak places in a row now - we roll a pair of dice to see where to go each week, from a list of 36. This avoids the "Where do you want to go?" "I dunno, where do you want to got?" conversations. Since everyone's tastes vary it works out fairly well. We get steak places, Italian, Chinese, Pizza, and so on. And as it's apparently a fairly tough business, there are always restaurants failing, dropping off the list, and new ones being added. Often we don't know whether a certain place is in business until we show up.
I was told I need more 'content' on these pages. And fewer weather reports. Hmmmm. How about a link per post? Or so. I've been collecting them since the early 90's, when I first discovered Mosaic. Ah, the magic of those days....
Oh yes, the power supply. The new (to us) supply arrived, was installed, and works fine. Then they told us that the building power was going down for the night. Sigh. Sometimes you can't even break even...

Thursday 28 March 2002

There was another luncheon for Len, this one from the entire code RS at NASA Dryden. R is for research, S is for structures - which is interpreted broadly enough to include aeroelasticity (they have to put us somewhere). It went well, though I passed on the famous Domingo's Margarita's - too much work to do in the afternoon.
One fellow engineer was taking pictures at the event with her digital camera, a Kodak DX3400, and commented to me that it was obsolete - a year old! We both chuckled, but there is a little grain of truth in that - the digital cameras are evolving at a rate greater than that of computers, perhaps a 6 month or less cycle. A current good consumer grade camera is probably 4 megapixels, a high end camera perhaps 6 megapixels. A zoom option I consider to increase the effective megapixels but some factor, perhaps 30-50%.
A bit like a computers CPU speed, you need an significant increase in resolution (pixels) to see much difference - perhaps 30%. For my 3 megapixel camera, the Olympus 3040-Z, this translates to 1.3*1.3*3.2 = 6 Megapixels. These exist, but run about $2500 right now. I can wait...
On a personal note, my teeming hordes of readers are screaming MORE MORE MORE MORE apparently. Well, OK, one sister said she liked the pages. Ah, the bliss of vanity press on the Internet....

Friday 29 March 2002

Friday was a "heads down" work day, so there isn't a lot to report, except that my hands hurt after twelve hours at the keyboard. But stuff is progressing in the right direction.
On the phone Thursday I helped talk a friends daughter get her pictures off her digital camera onto her laptop. Fortunately it was a USB cable, and Windows XP, so it was quick and easy. She wanted her card empty because she was going to visit her grandmother, who also has a digital camera. It looks like film is dead.
Around this time of year, Easter, I try to rent a copy of "Jesus Christ Superstar". I'm not particularly religious but it speaks to me on the level of loyalty, one of the primary virtues, much as the legend of Arthur and Lancelot does. And I still recall the shock the first time I heard Herod's song, done as ragtime, on my older sister's record player...
"Yes I am waiting,
I'm a captive fan...
I'm dying to be shown-
You're not just any man"
Well, something like that. They say the memory is the first thing to go. Or do they? I forget.
This weekend is for taxes. Sigh. They really aren't that hard, as my life hasn't changed much and they'll be much the same as last year and the year before that, but it's annoying. There are the usual reports in the media about hard-hitting reporters who take their tax paperwork to thirty different accountants and get thirty different returns. Apparently the IRS has about 17,000 pages of tax code.

Saturday 30 March 2002

It looks to be a nice warm day, suitable for mowing the lawn. The official last frost day in Lancaster is March 15 I think, so Spring is just about here - though in the desert it is only a shadow of the exuberance it has in milder climes.
Anything to avoid doing taxes I guess. I have turned them in a late as 11:00 pm on the eve of delinquency, but that's silly. I also have a friend who seems to enjoy doing it, and does a practice return for the around the first, to prepare for the joy of the real thing later in the month. Amazing.
I just let Riley in. He's been out eating grass, which means I have to be alert for the sound of up-chucking cat in about fifteen minutes or so....
I borrowed Sylvia Nasar's "A Beautiful Mind" from a friend, so I may get a chance to read it this weekend. I've only read a few biographies of mathematician's, S. Ulam, von Neumann, and another couple that I can't recall at the moment. I've always said that I was not going to read biographies until I retire, so as to have something left to read. On my boat in the South Seas.
Odd. I see that the page on Amazon now has "Edwards' Store" as a tab item. Personalized for me apparently. I'm a reasonably literate internet fellow, but I didn't know they were doing that. I'm not sure I like it.

Picture of the Week

Sunset over the Pacific, Oxnard, California, USA

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