Travels and Images

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Picture of the Week

Sunday 5 May 2002
Saturday I managed to injure a finger when the air compressor I was using recoiled. It's black and blue, and all that. So the typing is "hunt and peck" today.

I did manage to get out and look at the sky, and take a picture of the planets and stars in the western sky. Moderately impressive - Saturday was supposed to have been better.

Monday 6 May 2002

More on web page editing - Netscape Composer 6.2.2 apparently doesn't mangle links like version 4.79 did. I just upgraded lately and that's a real plus, it saves me an extra pass through Wordpad. I started making web pages quite a while ago,  before HTML 3.0 was a standard, and I can still code in an ascii editor, but these GUI's are nice. All my CGI-BIN stuff is forgotten, but I guess it could come back,  if required. But really, I don't need that, or XML, or CSS here.

It looks as though congress may just force more money on NASA for the Pluto Express mission. But the X-38 still seems on it's way out.  But there is a billion $ for SLI, and while it would be a good deal if we had a LOT of space transport needs, the Shuttle is already paid for... Any system used four to six times a year is going to be expensive,  irrespective of fuel efficiency. So why build a whole new system if you aren't going to fully staff  the only place for it to go, the Space Station? Oh well, it's all policy stuff at very rarefied levels, not worth worrying about.

I gave the cats some hair ball laxatives tonight. It's a gel you rub on their paws or nose, which they then lick off. Supposedly it's tasty - though they seemed less than enthused. They were puzzled and irritated by the procedure, but it worked. Hopefully it will cure Phoebe's little upchucks, else it's off to the vet!

Right now they are both off murdering crickets in the garage. Which reminds me, the dogs had a bird when I got home today, a very dead one. Can dogs sneak up on birds? Or did it die of old age while flying overhead??

I was finally able to get the floppy drive to work on this machine - it needed to be enabled in the BIOS. Duhh.

Hubble continues to bring in amazing pictures. Here is NGC 4676 , two colliding galaxies. What would it be like to live in one of those galaxies? Just as amazing, the background is FULL of little galaxy images...

Tuesday 7 May 2002

Took the day off. I thought I was going to see the orthopedic guy, but it turns out that will be thursday. But I needed a day off so I didn't go in to work. Cleaned house a bit, did some dishes, got the oil changed, brought books back to the library.  

I finally finished Pressfields book - apparently he also wrote "The Legend of Bagger Vance",  a movie I haven't seen. Also finished up Buckley's "End of the Affair" book. I think he pushes his boats too hard - he's always blowing out sails and what not. Written in 1992, there are prototype Satellite Navigation and Communication devices, which work only intermittently.

More interesting was "The Taming of the Crew" about a New Zealand family's cruise in the worst storms of the last 50 years or so to the Fiji islands and back. A lot of seasick people. They had a good time overall. Two small boys on a forty foot boat for weeks on end kept things interesting...

Even people who do not get seasick normally can get ill if conditions get bad.  Not only is one sick, but there is a lack of concentration and focus that can be very dangerous in those kind of conditions.  I read once of a guy who sailed his Coronado 25 (same boat type as mine) from San Francisco bay up to Half Moon bay, not all that far, and got deathly ill from the chop. When he arrived after dark he just dropped the anchor and went below to sleep. It was only luck that kept him from being washed onto that lee shore and killed in his sleep. When he awoke, he felt physically better and mentally like a criminally stupid fool. But it happens, an ' impaired judgment'  in some ways similar to that of a pilot starved for oxygen.

Wednesday 8 May 2002

Wednesday is usually a good work day, got a lot done today. Still waiting on other people, but some new software we received works rather well.

Today was odd weather. At Edwards there was no wind at all, but all about the Antelope Valley in the distance we could see walls of dust. A friend with allergies was having a terrible time.

An interesting aside to the book I mentioned yesterday, "The Taming of the Crew" by Michael and Sue  Neale-Brown (ISBN  1 86941 213 3 )- oddly no Random House Australia or Amazon or link found...) was that Michael mentions reading Nicholas Monsarrats' "The Cruel Sea" , the only time I've seen this excellent book mentioned anywhere in print. Another point he mentions is hearing voices in the air during gales. In "The Psychology of Sailing" Michael Stadler mentions this, and attributes it to the "white noise" in a full gale, with the brain grabbing various sounds and assembling them into patterns. An interesting book so far - my thanks to my friend S who finds this stuff for me at yard sales!!

An astronomy link is this one to a plot of asteroids in the solar system - pretty amazing! Makes the possibility that one will eventually hit us seem more real... One interesting observation  is of the Trojan asteroids, orbiting in the same orbit as Jupiter, but 60 degrees ahead and behind of it. Look at the blue cluster at the 2:30 and  9:00 positions. These are the Lagrange points.

Tomorrow I go to the orthopedist about the finger, and Phoebe goes to the vet to see about the vomiting. Here's the little furry guy with his favorite toy...
phoebe and boa

Phoebe, laptop, and favorite pink boa...

Thursday 9 May 2002

The boa above was actually a present for Riley, who could care less. But Phoebe uses it like a small child would a blanket, I find it in the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, on the couch or the stairs. A lot of fun in that $2.99 present! I took Phoebe to the vet today - he wasn't too thrilled about the ride, but I have a carrier and put some smelly socks and an old shirt of mine  into it to help distract him. The vet found nothing obviously wrong - weighed him, palpitated the abdomen, did the rectal thermometer thing. So he's on a diet of fussy eater cat food and the hairball stuff ( which both cats now love ) for a month to see if that clears things up. Otherwise it might be kidney or liver problems. I'd cross my fingers, but---

Having taken care of the cat I went to the orthopedist, who took one look at the x-ray and said "The specialist for hands is in next week - I'll get you an appointment." I like this guy - he's sort of a Dr. McCoy type, and his staff likes and feels at ease with him. Still, another half day off work, and more next week.
xray of hand

Not too much else happening. I received some memory for the laptop, which was left with the neighbors, who aren't home right now.  So a little more waiting. I want to benchmark it, though at 266Mhz it won't be much. Maybe put linux on it, upgrade from Win98v1.

Talking to my father, he said the passion vines in his back yard are not budding. Oh well, cuttings are like that. We'll plant something else, if we can't find some more of those. His sister, my aunt, has invited us out to meet in Halifax this summer. Not sure that we'll go, but it's a neat thought. They have a corvette there, the H.M.S. Sackville , which is a sister ship to the U.S.S. Action, which he served on in the Atlantic during the second world war. The Canadians used them, and gave us fifty or so as well, but the Sackville is the only remaining ship of her class, the Flower Class Corvette (Monsarrat's fictional ship being called the Compass Rose - british humor I guess).  It would be neat to see her and go aboard, though the Canadians did things a little differently. Wire cable instead of hemp for example, and different guns. They were designed as low cost submarine chasers and did the job. If we flew into Boston ( Logan, hmmm... ) we could also see the U.S.S. Constitution, and drive up through Boothbay Harbor where he grew up.

My neighbor just dropped off the memory, oh joy, oh joy. What a nice guy.

Friday 10 May 2002

Friday, ahhhhhh. Since it's friday this will be short. Here is a shot of ZoneAlarm intercepting somebody. The dark streak is where the camera is out of synchronization with the crt refresh rate. Apparently some of these "hack attempts" are just "background noise" for the internet, what with all the search engine robots, network identifiers, napster clones - these show up as light pink or orange and what zone alarm considers more serious attempts show up with a red header:
zone alarm screen shot

Saturday 11 May 2002

So I installed the ram, which brings the Sony up to 192 MB - quite respectable. It runs the OSU Benchmark in  1,978 seconds - quite respectable, really, for a PII@266Mhz.  The Compaq runs it in 5,292 seconds with 96 MB of ram, quite atrocious, the worst ever. I need to email them the results! An old CeleronA@ 400 clocks in at 1,690 seconds with both 128Mb and 256MB so it's probably the processors' fault - the Compaq's a K6-2@266Mhz, not the measly 96MB, that's to blame. Still, it works well enough. The more modern AMD chips run quite well, as the benchmark page shows. It's a very processor intensive job so the disk and I/O subsystems are not thrashed out as well as some benchmarks would.

Didn't do much today. Finished Stadler's book. It's short, but there is some interesting material on both visual and auditory hallucinations/illusions at sea. Humans are optimized for life on land, and there are a lot of things at sea that can fool one. At one point the author refers to a study stating that 80% of all 'accidents' at sea are due to human error - many of these attributable to what the aerospace industry would refer to as 'human factors', i.e. predictable errors due to human physiology and psychology.

Started on the Nash biography - I should get it back to the lender, though he says he's too busy to read right new. Also reading a book on linear algebra, not quite as interesting.

Maybe Spiderman tomorrow, with some friends. Now STAR WARS, that might be worth in line for.

A friend loaned me "Roommates from Hell" , as well as  "I'm So Tired Of Other People, I'm Dating Myself" and " Deep Thoughts: Inspiration for the Uninspired" . Maybe there's a message there for me? Light fun reading, here's a quote from the last:

"If trees could scream,
would we be so cavalier about cutting them down?
We might,
if they screamed all the time,
for no good reason."

Have I mentioned that I am watching this friends' dog? Have I mentioned  the same barks incessantly, and since it's deaf, I have to go out and physically get it's attention to make it stop? Did I mention that I got a postcard today, from Hawaii, things are going well it seems...
The postcard.

Picture of the Week
small alingmnebt

PhotoNotes: This is the western sky, shortly after sunset showing the brighter stars and planets. It was actually quite a bit darker than shown here in a fairly long exposure.

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