Sailing Hummingbird feeder

Travels and Images

WEEK 15 2006

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Saturday 15 April 2006

Saturday - mowed the lawn in back, tried to air out the damp downstairs. It started to rain in the afternoon however.

Friday 14 April 2006

Friday - on the road, heading north for the Easter weekend. The traffic wasn't bad - there were the usual number of idiots, but not bad. Weirdness: someone pulling a large fixed keel sailboat (on a trailer, silly!), two log cabins - very wide, being towed along, a couple of strange gizmo's on a flatbed - hovercraft?

Thursday 13 April  2006

Thursday - "little stuff, that needs to be taken one step at a time." So, I go in this morning, thinking things are just about done, I can get pressure coefficients, I can generate pressures, I get normal forces and moments for different alphas' and betas', I'm ready to crank through some data, it's all good. Except...just a niggling detail. When I plot up some results the moments don't seem to quite zero out at zero beta. In fact, they're relatively huge, well outside any margin of error. Hmmm. So I spent all day on that. Sheesh. And it's probably something really simple and stupid that I'm overlooking.

Watched a pretty good Supernatural tonight, with a haunted painting. Smallville was just filler. House on Tuesday was sort of mediocre this week (though it did have Cameron in a red dress!); last week's episode with Dawn, Buffy's kid sister, was better.

Here's a viewgraph of the three proposed space shuttle replacements, from the mid-1990's. The one on the right was chosen, and failed due to technical problems, basically gumption and materials engineering stuff, and never got more than half built. The one on the left was from Rockwell, and essentially looks like they scaled up an old space shuttle to the point where the entire external fuel tank would fit internally. A far less risky proposition - I wonder if it would have worked?

Why do I bring this up? Because the current "Apollo on Steroids" system is already over budget and behind schedule - and they haven't started yet!

From RLV News (via Transterrestrial Musings)

NASA's various attempts to develop new space transports, particularly fully reusable launch vehicles, in the past decade or so have not been successful. However, rather than revealing poor planning and management, NASA said those failures proved that RLVs were not feasible with current technology. So if the CEV program collapses due to overruns colliding with a no-growth budget, I guess that will prove that capsules on expendables are not feasible with current technology.

Wednesday 12 April 2006

Wednesday - just sort of plodding through the day at work - little stuff, that needs to be taken one step at a time. It was warm and sunny so I had a nice walk at lunch.

It was warm and sunny when I got home as well. It's odd - I get used to winter, and the relief of going into the house, away from the gray cold outside, and the warm sunlit afternoons shocks me every year. Still sunny at 6:00pm!

I've been leafing through a copy of Joel on Software that I picked up used. Very interesting stuff. I'm not actually sure what sort of software Joel's company writes - I'm just dipping into the book here and there - but a lot of the comments seem spot on. For example, clients that don't know what they want:

"The damm customer kept changing his mind. First he wanted Client/Server. Then he read about XML in the Delta Airlines' in-flight magazine and decided he had to have XML. Now we're rewriting the thing to use fleets of small Lego Mindstorm Robots."

Tuesday 11 April 2006

Tuesday - went home after just 8 hours at work. It felt weird. It's turned gray and drizzly, but is supposed to improve a bit in the next couple of days, then worsen for the weekend. I was thinking of heading north, but maybe not...

So the cat feeder goes off, a few minutes ago. The beeper beeps loudly, the gears grind - a two small pellets fall out. Phoebe, sitting next to it, does not ever look at them. He looks at ME, rather, outraged. Who says cats can't speak? Cats can have very expressive body language - I laughed out loud. The poor little pig of a cat - I gave him a handful of food gravel, then put some food in the other, low-tech feeder, and set it for the same feeding time (morning feed) as the useless great big computerized feeder. Which does have a beeper, after all.

MATLAB is a powerful program. I wrote a gui graphical interface to plot an aeroelastic model and pressure coefficients in eight or nine lines (I could have done it in fewer, but I prefer clarity to cleverness). Unfortunately MATLAB costs quite a bit - there was a bit of a hoohaw around the office recently, when people discovered that the license was expiring shortly, and no-one had budgeted for a new one... Money was found, but one of these days I need to come up to speed on Python.

 Monday 10 April 2006

Monday - I noticed that the "week" labels on these pages were all messed up. Hopefully weeks 12, 13, 14, and 15 (current) are now correct.

It's always something...

Sunday 9 April 2006

Sunday - a nice day, though not as nice as Saturday. I did a bit of work around the house, and went over to Barnes & Noble but didn't buy much.

Picture of the Week

West Brother's lighthouse

Photo Notes: This is the West Brother's lighthouse, near the Carquinez Straits. It's on an island in the middle of the Sacramento River, and is now a bed and breakfast.

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