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WEEK 13 2007

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Saturday 31 March 2007

Saturday - heading up to see Dad. Moderate traffic, particularly as it is the week before Easter and people are probably starting to vacation. There were a fair number of RV's on the road, but it wasn't bad. Next week will be terrible. Halfway up the valley, in fact, a friend called and asked if I wanted to carpool up next weekend. Sorry pal...

On the way north I finished off Book #24, The Professor and the Madman*, by  Simon Winchester. It was an enjoyable book - sad and a bit brutal sometimes, but worth it. As much for the histories of dictionaries themselves, and the sidelights on the past treatment of the insane, as for the unfortunate life story of Captain W.C. Minor.

Friday 30 March 2007

Friday - Elvis gets all the girls. Still. Even at a Sci-Fi convention. [via Ghost of a Flea]

There is a dirt bike track in town, alongside the freeway. Lots of bumps and jumps and the riders are usually grabbing a lot of air. Today when I drove by on my way home no-one was riding and there were a lot of emergency vehicles.

At work we saw a presentation today on The Long Lonely Leap. The USAF, in the late fifties, was trying out methods to safely eject from aircraft at high speed and high altitude. In one project a man jumped out of a balloon at 102,800 feet, to test the suit and systems they'd developed. Colonel Joseph Kittinger holds most of the speed altitude records for balloon jumping to this day. Amazing.

In other news I found a caramel candy in my shirt pocket this evening. I'd forgotten picking it up in the DFRC library earlier today. Pretty cool, it's like found money. And it didn't go through the washer and ruin the shirt!

We're off the the LPAC tonight, for a circus show. Those are usually fun to watch.

Light posting until I'm back from Dads' place next week.

Thursday 29 March  2007

Thursday - Not a lot to say. I spent a lot of time in meetings, to no particular point. If I spent less time in meetings I'd get more done. Oh well.

A fellow engineer came in late this afternoon with a question on how to plot something in MATLAB. She was impressed when I picked up last years engineering logbook, flipped through it and pointed to the function required. I'd written down the process about April of last year. It took me years to realized the value of such an article, and I still tend to stop writing or to skimp on detail when I get busy - which is when I need the most accurate record.

Book #23 (I'm caught up on stuff I read while sick now) was Godforsaken Sea, by Derek Lundy. It's a book about a long distance solo sailing race. Starting from France the Vendee Globe route goes down the Atlantic, around Antarctica, and then back up the Atlantic to France. The sailors' are individually probably the most competent sailors in the world, and the boats the most advanced. They need to be, because the Great Southern Ocean is the most difficult and dangerous sailing on Earth. Indeed, racing through icebergs in fog in gale force winds using an autopilot while asleep is normal. While the skill and daring of the contestants elicits admiration, the lack of good sense and the pursuit of speed over seamanship tends to detract.

I believe I did catch an error. The author tells of being stopped, on his way back from Bermuda in a small sail boat, by a guided missile cruiser from the Coast Guard. This was either a U.S.N. guided missile cruiser, with perhaps a coast detachment aboard for customs duty, or perhaps a non-missile actual U.S.C.G. vessel. The Coast Guard itself has no guided missile cruisers, to the best of my knowledge.

Lundy also writes a bit about Robin Knox-Johnston, who while not a competitor in the 1996 Vendee Globe, won the first solo non-stop around the world race in 1968-1969. Robin is still sailing, has a web page, and as of this March is actually competing in a (less strenuous) race. Peter Nichols mentions in Sea Change (book #5) waking up one morning to see RKJ tied up alongside in Suhaili and having a nice chat. Or perhaps he was too shy to speak - I can't remember.

I haven't read RKJ's book yet - one of these days.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Wednesday - eh. I don't feel much like blogging tonight, think I'll read instead :-)

In other news, I got a haircut. After standing for twenty minutes in line to mail a simple package behind two prime specimens.

#1 was a servicemen on TDY who wanted an address. Problem was that he hadn't been assigned a place to stay by the Air Force yet. This only took about seven or eight minutes to sort out. #2 was another serviceman who was mailing a small package, about the size of a paperback book. First he quizzed the postal help on insurance, and then decided he needed it. Then he had to decide between various forms of registered and receipt mail. Then...uh...I can't even remember. But there was a third stupidity. Then he asked, and I kid you not, "Are there any other options?". On being assured that there wasn't a single pointless, time wasting and expensive stupidity left in even the vast Post Office repertoire he paid - with a credit card. (His wife came in at one point - dear lord, he may actually reproduce. Assuming he can figure out how.)

There was another line, but the postal worker there was helping someone fill out a passport application. They were there when I arrived, they were still there when I left.

The line was eight or ten people long when I left. Several people had just given up and left without getting to the counter...

NCIS is already into summer reruns, bummer.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Tuesday - cold and very very windy. Gusting to 40mph at one point.

Not much to say. The grilled chicken caesar salad came out tasting OK, and I'm still alive proving it was cooked enough. Four minutes a side was probably overkill.

I finally got around to watching the season finale of Battlestar Galactica. I wasn't going to, but several blogs were raving about how good it was and I thought I'd give the series one more chance. What a waste of time. It's just a pointless pot boiler now, recycling various in-the-news events of the last ten years, slightly disguised. Too bad, it could have been good.

Odd to think that they recently got the go ahead for another 22 episodes despite clearly having run out of new ideas almost a full season back. Now I root for the Cylons, or would if they hadn't been turned into stupid soap opera characters as well.

 Monday 26 March 2007

Monday - the weather is changing, and it's getting grey and windy. Glad I got the lawn done. I still need to trim the 'volunteer' trees along the block wall, and call the city about their two trees along the wall. I don't want them cut down, but the roots need to be trimmed.

Book #22 was Beautiful Just, by Lillian Beckwith, read by Hannah Gordon. Recommended! I think this is the second book in the Bruach series, another collection of stories about the Hebridean islanders and their odd ways. The beautiful item, by the way, isn't the sea, nor the sky, and doesn't refer to the island landscape. Instead it is a ...

A headline from Slashdot: Scientists create sheep that are 15% Human. Is life imitating art? The Androids Dream, book #20 of this year, the author has as a plot device a woman whose DNA is 18% that of a sheep...

Sunday 25 March 2006

Sunday - I used the new 50mm lens a bit. I think things are a bit sharper. There is a picture of Riley below, at least as good as anything I've taken with the zoom. We'll see.

I went to see '300' with my brother. I liked it. It was taken from a comic book rendition of Thermopylae, but reasonably true to the historical sources. It was violent, and there was a bit of toplessness here and there, but not the homosexual orgy that apparently the Los Angeles Time led some people to believe.

I mowed the lawn. After last fall's difficulty in getting the mower to start I'd assumed that a new mower would be necessary - this one dates to 1994. Indeed, without even trying it out I've been looking at mowers already. However, after adding a cup of crankcase oil and a tank ofgas the old girl started right up, on the third or fourth try. Weird. So, despite the 80F heat the front and back lawns were taken care of. (I try not to do noisy yard work on Sundays, but Saturday was busy and bad weather was predicted for early in the coming week.)

Picture of the Week
Riley with the 50mm len

Photo Notes: Riley, with the 50mm lens.

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