sailing the NorSea


WEEK 22 2010

Last Week- Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week

Picture of the Week


Oxnard  Weather Underground
Click for Oxnard, California Forecast
Lancaster WeatherUnderground
Click for Lancaster, California Forecast
Martinez WeatherUnderground
Click for Buchanan, California Forecast

First Post, 17 March 2002
Eight Years Ago, This Week, 2002 Seven Years Ago, This Week, 2003 Six Years Ago, this week, 2004 Five Years Ago, this week, 2005 Four Years Ago, This Week, 2006
Three Years Ago, This Week, 2007
Two Years Ago, This Week, 2008
One Year Ago, This Week, 2009

Saturday 5 June 2010
Saturday - Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nebula referred to as Thors Helmet. I think not.


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....

Friday 4 June 2010
Friday - 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. 

The 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 somewhat less.

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.

Louver 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 comfortable 75F.

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 2010

Thursday - 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 series.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Wednesday - 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 2010

Tuesday - home, but not feeling very well. Even the pink stuff isn't performing as well as I'd like ;-(

Fortunately 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 Oregon, and her part in the Spanish-American war. In an odd instance of synchronicity that naval war came back into my awareness in the form of the USS Olympia (C-6). The Olympia 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 to go see her.

USS Olympia
USS Olympia, Philadelphia. (picture Wiki commons)
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.

Sixty years without a dry dock? Insane.

Monday 31 May 2010

Monday - back to Lancaster, home by late afternoon. Traffic seemed decent - maybe the economy is keeping travel down?

Book #33 was Limbo System, 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

Sunday - 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 Eifleheim, 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 ears either.

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 January Dancer, 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 history).

My 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?

Picture of the Week

aqueduct in the west valley

Photo Notes: Aqueduct and snow, west Antelope Valley 2009.

Last Week- Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week