WEEK 21 2012
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
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This Week, 2010
|One Year Ago,
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.
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.
- 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.
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
The Russians wouldn't like that either.
Thursday 24 May 2012
- 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.
22 May 2012
- Worked, up in Thousand Oaks again, and we've now finished most of the
inspection for this job. Back to Lancaster in the evening.
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:
Sunday 20 May 2012
- 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
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!