WEEK 22 2010
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Years Ago, this week, 2005
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
Saturday - Today's Astronomy
Picture of the Day is a nebula referred to as Thors Helmet. I
Application of a simple unsharp
mask gives the image on the left. Can we even imagine the power
of a species capable of engineering on such an astronomical scale, perhaps a Kardashev
Scale II+ civilization?
Be afraid people, be very afraid....
- Whoo Hoo! No jury duty call. Done for a year!
My central air conditioner
seems to have failed. Coming home from lunch with some friends it was
80F in the house. I could hear the unit
running in the garage, but there was no air coming from the downstairs
ducts, and the
upstairs ducts have just a gentle breeze, and it's hard to tell if the
air coming out is cool or not.
Well, it was time to get Mr. Swampy going again, anyway.
unit is falling apart from rust, but it looks like I can get one more
year out of it. I'll have to manufacture at least one water trough, but
the sides of the unit and the squirrel cage housing while also rusting
through might have another season in them. The louvered pad holds are
literally falling apart.
Of course, it's all just sheet metal.
You can buy tools to work with that stuff - shears, brakes, louver
tools. A new unit would be about $500, tools would probably cost
OK, from Grizzly, a Chinese tool manufacturer seen a lot at Harbor Freight we can get
30" bender: $60
Sheet Metal Cutter: $20
Or a 30" combination brake, shear, roller: $595.
tools, it turns out, consist of a hydraulic ram, a die, and a punch.
Fairly expensive bought new, but one ought to be able to buy them used,
or farm the work out after assembling the panels.
Hot Rodders make this sort of stuff all the time.
New pads, new pump, a lot of fooling around with the water line, and we
were up and running. The humidity is rather high, 25%, but since it was
only about 88F outside the unit was able to keep the house at a
Book #36 was Deadman Switch,
by Timothy Zahn. I read this to confirm my opinion of Zahn as a decent
writer. And this book had a decent plot, several imaginative plot
devices and gimmicks, and a reasonable resolution. So, avoid the Cobra and Star Wars novels and you'll probably do all right.
Thursday 3 June
- Again, no jury call. One more day and I'm free.
I've pretty much stopped using
coffee and cola. It was upsetting my stomach, and it's unpleasant to be
addicted to this kind of stuff. Tea is a decent enough alternative for
those times when I need a bit of a boost, and much less expensive. And
I can certainly use a few less calories in my diet!
Book #35 was Cobra Alliance
by Timothy Zahn. Eh. I think I read the original Cobra novel and a
sequel years ago, and remember it being better than this effort, which
is clearly the beginning of a long series. Zahn's a decent 2nd tier
author, with a good imagination, but this and his Star Wars potboilers
are pretty poor stuff. I guess it pays his bills, and the people that
buy them get enjoyment out of them, so who am I to complain? It was a
library book, and free, but I probably won't pick up another in this
Wednesday 2 June
- Book #34 was Lady of Mazes,
by Karl Schroeder. This is a post-singularity novel, and pretty well
done. A basic concept is that of a Manifold, an agreed upon consensual
reality. Computer implants interact with your visual center, and you
only see what you and your peers agree to see. Rainbow's End had something similar in it. You might call it augmented reality.
You might think of Wikitude as a (very) early form of this.
Here is the sunburn on the right foot:
Starting to heal, still a bit itchy! I'll have an awesome "birk foot"
tan line this year.
The Birkenstocks are an old pair,a birthday present from my mother,
when I was in college, so it was a while ago. I remember her looking at
me oddly and asking if that was really
what I wanted, since I usually would ask for a book or something
computerish. Thanks Mom, I did want them, and they've served me well -
the sunburn was my own fault.
Tuesday 1 June
- home, but not feeling very well. Even the pink stuff isn't performing
as well as I'd like ;-(
no need to report for jury duty today. I kicked that can down the road
earlier this year, and have caught up with it again. I didn't pick a
holiday week on purpose, but it might have been a good idea - judges
and lawyers like long holidays, I suspect.
I managed to sunburn
the tops of my feet and toes last weekend, walking around Lake Miramar
in my Birkenstocks. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So, it's good that I don't
have to wear footwear for a day or two!
I wrote a few days back about the USS
and her part in the Spanish-American war. In an odd instance of
naval war came back into my awareness in the form of the USS Olympia (C-6). The
wasn't a battleship, but rather a Protected Cruiser, and she's the only
vessel left of any of the ships afloat in that war. I've always meant
go see her.
Reading a blog post at Cronaca,
it turns out that she is in dire
need of repairs, and there are actually compartments that are flooded. She made
need in excess of $25 Million to dry dock and repair. The Friends of the Cruiser
Olympia website has more information.
USS Olympia, Philadelphia. (picture Wiki commons)
Sixty years without a dry dock? Insane.
Monday 31 May
- back to Lancaster, home by late afternoon. Traffic seemed decent -
maybe the economy is keeping travel down?
Book #33 was
by Rick Cook. This is somewhat more straightforward than Eifleheim.
Starships, beautiful planetologists, scheming bureaucrats,
self-doubting noble captain, aliens out for what they can get.
Oddly, like Eifleheim,
it has a strong Catholic subplot.
Sunday 30 May_2010
- mostly we relaxed, after Saturday's phenomenal party. It was well
attended, everyone there happy to be out with their friends on a
beautiful Southern California afternoon. The children were all well
behaved, and they and a few parents dipped in the pool.
Book #32 was
by Mike Flynn. The premise is straightforward: alien crash in 1348, in
what is now Germany. The ignorant and superstitious local
priest...isn't...and the power hungry Baron back from the
crusades...isn't. The aliens are believable, and while not evil are not
exactly angels either. And they aren't humans in fur suits or pointed
The story ends rather sadly. Because, although they partially repair
their ship, the odds are the alien Krenken
aren't going to make it home, and it's the start of the Black Death in
Europe. Well written.
I had actually been looking for a successor book in the same universe
as this years The
and this was sort of reluctantly plucked from the library shelf. It
looked sentimental and rather PC. Instead it was well done, and feeds
into, rather, Flynn's interests in history. Flynn wrote In the Country of the Blind,
another book about the analysis (and manipulation) of history by
mathematical means (which he names "Cliology", after Clio, the muse of
recollection is that also wrote an article about historical prediction
for Analog science fiction magazine, with examples, some years ago. I
wonder how well those predictions have turned out?