sailing the NorSea


WEEK 21 2012

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Saturday 26 May2012
Saturday - the morning started just a bit unpromising - my coffee cup failed in a peculiar way under a very slight impact. Fortunately it was nearly empty and I didn't burn myself.

ceraimic failure mode

Weather wise: more wind and partially overcast. Huh. But kind of nice, actually, when you are working outdoors. I (mostly) finished placing the river rock and paver's in the front flower bed. In total this makes 32+26+11= 69 bags. I paid way too much, but it's done, which is good.

I also re potted the cactus in back. I wanted to get another clay pot, but they are asking $80 for a big pot, so I settled for a cheap plastic pot instead. It still looks better than the broken pot, and it was definitely time:  the cactus was looking rather stressed. I had to think about how to move a bulky 60lb cactus; but finally I laid it on its side, broke away the remaining clay bits of the old pot, and, using my heavy leather welding jacket and gauntlets, eased it into the new pot, then set everything upright and added potting soil, sand, and lots of water.

A friend tells me that these cheap pots degrade and fall apart after a couple of years though, so maybe I'll build a light wooden form around it to protect from the UV.

I also picked up a new 3/4HP motor for the swamp cooler, but ran out of daylight before putting it in. Tomorrow.

Friday 25 May 2012
Friday - I woke up to cold and wind. Windy isn't a surprise, it's Lancaster and the winds been howling all week. The wind report for Wednesday, for example, was 45mph from the west, gusting to 57mph! But overcast and 55F? It's been in the 90's!

The speed and duration of the recent winds (a couple of weeks now) suggest to me a return to the 1980's and 1990's, when it was common to have high winds that lasted for weeks. Sometime around the turn of the century that seems to have changed. I suppose I could look it up, and see if it's the case, but that's my current impression.

So, Space-X's Dragon capsule docked with the ISS this morning, in the AM hours.


It's a big deal because NASA has had no way of supplying the ISS with astronauts and cargo after the retirement of the Shuttle fleet - despite having had 25+ years to come up with a replacement (since the Shuttle's debut, really). Space-X built the launcher and capsule using a fixed price contract: $1.6 Billion for twelve resupply flights. That seems like a lot, but it would be the cost of just three shuttle flights, excluding all development costs for the shuttle. So, a deal.

This is just a demonstration cargo vehicle (no windows!), but it could take people too. The Russian's must be terrified: a newer, better system than their antique Soyuz that they've been charging top dollar for the US to use.

If NASA were to contract with Boeing/USAF for use of an X-37 derivative for use as an emergency return-to-Earth shuttle for the station, then they could keep it attached for a year or more, and dispense with the Soyuz capsules which have to be recycled every six months.

The Russians wouldn't like that either.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Thursday - Took a friend down to UCLA for a medical appointment. Passed the time by visiting the engineering library at Boelter Hall. Very nice, wish I had more time to browse there. Afterwards we had a very nice lunch at a nearby Italian place, and returned home early evening. Very tired again.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Wednesday  - Almost too tired to move. The swamp cooler fan motor has overheated and failed, I'll have to get a new one. Bah.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Tuesday - Worked, up in Thousand Oaks again, and we've now finished most of the inspection for this job. Back to Lancaster in the evening.

Monday 21 May 2012

Monday - Working.

Book #50 was A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge. This is an excellent book, I think it won the Hugo in 1991, and in anticipation of reading the sequel that just came out I thought I'd re-read it.

So, we have so far this year:

#1 His Majesty's Dragon: Temeraire #1
#2 Throne of Jade: Temeraire #2
#3 Black Powder War: Temeraire #3
#4 Hitch-22
#5 The Wave: In Pursuit of the ... of the Ocean
#6 Empire of Ivory, Temeraire Book #4
#7 Victory of Eagles, Temeraire #5
#8 Tongues of Serpents: Temeraire #6
#9 Return to Dakistee
#10 Villains Inc, Episode Four: Endgame
#11 The Innocence of Father Brown
#12 How Firm a Foundation
#13 Death on an Autumn River
#14 Westerly Gales
#15 The Cruise of the Albatros
#16 A Larger Universe
#17 Neptune's Inferno
#18 The Man Who Knew Too Much
#19 Sweet Silver Blues
#20 Bitter Gold Hearts
#21 Cold Copper Tears
#22 Old Tin Sorrows
#23 Dread Brass Shadows
#24 The Hunger Games
#25 Catching Fire
#26 Deadly Quicksilver Lies
#27 Red Iron Nights
#28 Petty Pewter Gods
#29 Whispering Nickel Idols
#30 Angry Lead Skies
#31 Gilded Latten Bones
#32 Scholar
#33 Programming in Objective-C
#34 Temeraire: Crucible of Gold
#35 Into the Hinterlands
#36 Pandora's Legions
#37 Shadows in Flight
#38 A Rising Thunder
#39 Beginning IOS Game Development
#40 Timeless
#41 Surrender to the Will of the Night
#42 A Path to Coldness of Heart
#43 The Wisdom of Father Brown
#44 Star Carrier: Earth Strike: Book 1
#45 Center of Gravity: Earth Strike: Book 2
#46 In The Lion's Mouth
#47 Singularity: Star Carrier: Book Three
#48 The Chequer Board
#49 Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles Book 4)
#50 A Fire Upon the Deep

Sunday 20 May 2012

Sunday - In the late morning we inspected one of the tougher drains, 1300' long, and only about 4.5' high. Very hard on the back. If it had been 2000' I think we would have had to stop and come back the next day!

After the inspection we went up to Ojai for the partial eclipse, as the marine layer in Ventura obscured the sky. We went to the little downtown park there, listened to the band, and enjoyed the 90F heat. The eclipse was easily visible, though not a "ring of fire" as it was further north.

We made little pinhole camera's to view the occultation, and a local high school teacher had brought two scopes for people to look through. One used a hydrogen-alpha filter and made the prominences on the edge of the sun quite visible. I didn't get the filter type on the other, but it made the sunspots on the disk quite clear. Neat!

Picture of the Week
old equipment
Photo Notes: Old Gold Rush equipment, near Yosemite, July 2008.

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