sailing the NorSea


WEEK 22 2011

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First Post, 17 March 2002
Nine Years Ago, This Week, 2002 Eight Years Ago, This Week, 2003 Seven Years Ago, this week, 2004 Six Years Ago, this week, 2005 Five Years Ago, This Week, 2006
Four Years Ago, This Week, 2007
Three Years Ago, This Week, 2008
Two Years Ago, This Week, 2009
One Year Ago, This Week, 2010

Saturday 4 June 2011
Saturday - I picked up some more paver base, so that I can put some pavers around a raised planter. It's a pain to mow about, and there are a bunch of weeds there, so this should make it look better. I'll probably just get the square paver's, rather than the hexagonal. I also picked up some flowers for the little planter in front that nothing will grow for long in. Vinca, which doesn't need a whole lot of sun.

Book #56 was Komarr, by Lois McMasters Bujold. I picked this up at the library, so I can finish the series up.

Weird Story: Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski, a Russian scientist who has the distinction of being the only person to ever stick their head in a running particle accelerator.

Into a proton beam, and lived. Amazing.

via Skulls in the Stars

Another web find. Years ago I had an excellent Physics instructor for undergraduate physics, James Ardini. At one point in the class he mentioned that the electrical and magnetic fields we were talking about were actually just the measurable face of the underlaying potential field, and that the potential field was a real thing. I had completely forgotten the name of the idea, but always thought it an intriguing idea. A couple of desultory searches didn't bring up any hits from Google, but my search terms were pretty vague.

Anyway, reading a blog I found what I suspect that what he was talking about:the Aharonov-Bohm effect. The math and physics is utterly beyond me, but it's cool that I finally have a name to go with the idea.

Friday 3 June 2011
Friday - Not much to say, out running various errands and doing bills.

I missed mentioning Book #55, Barryar, by Lois McMasters Bujold. This actually comes before The Vor Game, chronologically (in the story, that is). I think there are one or two that are prequels even to this, but am not sure. One, at least. And some after the books I've listed.

OK, this list at Amazon says there is one book before Barryar, and three after Memory, but we need to add in the just published Cryoburn, for a grand total.of six more books in the series. Also Falling Free and Ethan of Athos, which are part of the same universe but not Vorkosigian books, proper.

One of the earliest science fiction books I can recall, after Needle, was a parallel universe story that I read while in grammar school. There was a possible "good" future universe with a beautiful sweet queen, and another possible "bad" future universe with an evil (but really sexy) queen. Both possible universes had sent missions to the past, to influence history and determine which universe actually came to be. Really cool, sort of a reverse Butterfly Effect or Sound of Thunder plot but I could not for the life of me remember the author or title! It wasn't a big deal, but it's bothered me for years.

Until, over at John C. Wright's blog he griped about the kids today: "Do they even know enough to fear the beautiful but evil Sorainya of Gyronchi, Queen of the End of Time?" Now I read this mystery book at the Vacaville Public Library in the late 1960's, but I instantly recognized the name (and description). A quick Google search for Sorainya led me to Jack Williamson's 1938 novelette, The Legion of Time (not to be confused with his Legion of Space novels). I've no immediate plans to buy it or anything, but it's nice to have a decade old memory itch finally scratched!

You know, thinking about it, it'd make a great SyFy made-for-TV movie. Maybe I should scratch up a screenplay on spec...

Tyler Cowen vs. The Man:
  I once “parked the wrong way” in Falls Church City.  The policeman told me he could not give me a ticket, since he had not seen me do it, but that there was no way I could leave the space legally.  (I so enjoy a dare.)  Here in Virginia, or at least in Falls Church City, the rule of law reigns; the policeman recognized the car might have been there forever, or might have been parked by a computer (that’s illegal too, but let him try to prove the computer did it), or might have materialized there through quantum effects.  A game of waiting ensued.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Thursday - Dad passed away two years ago, today. Sometimes it still feels like last week.

It's the way of things I guess.  Dad's a Memorial day memory, Mom's passing was on Good Friday in 1998; it keeps the memories present, which I guess is all we can hope for. I think about him all the time, I know his opinion and judgment was the one I looked to the most. It's odd, now that he gone, it's like losing an anchor. Ah, well.

He didn't like having his picture taken, so there aren't many of him. A number of photo's are of the back of his head. I'd sneak shots in, though, with him off to the side in a photograph of the dog, or of someone else opening a present at Christmas. I think he knew it, but I didn't admit it and he was too reserved to make a big stink, or insist that a photo of the niece or sister be deleted. Hah.

Typical photo, Peg & Dad's foot - he didn't like to be photographed.

The Picture of the Week below is another such a picture, taken from a distance...

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon doing errands at a friends. We took the utility trailer to the dump and got rid of the rest of the tree debris - I think the tree needs more trimming but the 22' ladder just isn't long enough.

Then there was some work on the sprinkler system. There was no power near the sprinkler manifold so the original plan was to use a battery operated controller. This foundered on the $45 per line cost of such a system. Instead we just put the digital controller (24V transformed off 110AC) in the garage and ran the sprinkler wires about 100'. It seems to work, but I need to go back and drill a hole in the stucco, up near the eaves, for the sprinkler line into the garage. Right now it's just running through the badly fitted door jamb. Total cost was about $60.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wednesday  - I fiddled with the paver's a bit, hand dripping sand between the cracks. No store seems to carry the correct small sand for the joints, so I am just filtering the big stuff out of the paver sand and using it. It should do well enough.

I had some help over, he was mowing/weed whacking/edging the back yard, and I did the same for the front yard as well, although it wasn't in as dire need of work. But this way the two yards are in sync again, as far as scheduling them as chores. I fertilized the front, put some weed 'n feed down, and some ironite and fungicide. It looks better, the roses are in full bloom (note to self: take some pictures!) although the rose beds need weeding already.

The last few days I've been going through Flash Forward on the Tivo. What an excellent series! I remember being underwhelmed by the kickoff episode and not really watching it after, but watched on Tivo the lack of commercial interruption and the continuity between episodes really makes the series shine. The 22 episodes went by all too fast. It was canceled, of course, but what there was, was good.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Tuesday - I went over and picked up the load of green waste, tree debris, and took it over to the local landfill. It was $35 for the nominal load, we were measured on the scales going in and out, and I guess we were lucky not to trip the scales to incur an additional tonnage fee. Still, five times the legal hourly minimum wage to drop off some tree branches? Sheesh. There'll be another load in a few days, too.

Book #54 was Storm Passage: Alone Around Cape Horn, by Webb Chiles. In 1974 Chiles tries to sail around Cape Horn, and make a single handed record for speed. He has severe weather and, wisely, turns back when the boat is damaged. In 1975 he tries again, and despite some more severe damage, succeeds. He doesn't come off as a likable person, but his middle name might be Determination! The Ericcson 37 he was using was probably not really suited to the Great Southern Ocean, and his lack of a backup sail inventory - he had to resew his main nearly every day - nearly cost him the boat, and probably his life, but perseverance brought him all the way around the world, and home.

I mentioned reading The Open Boat: Across the Pacific a while back (Book #44, 2006). The successor, The Ocean Waits, wherein he sails from the end of the previous journey, the New Hebrides, to Saudi Arabia, is available on Kindle...

A record of the winds on the 29th:


Monday 30 May 2011

Monday - Memorial Day. Feeling a bit blue about things. Thinking about Dad. I have an old voice recorder, that I used with my Dad a couple of times, when we were talking about some of his wartimes stories and friends. I should see if there is anything left on the tapes, but just don't have the heart.

Over at Ereweb's Blog there was a post entitled No, shut up. What statistical programming languages can learn from Dropbox.

He's aggravated that simple things can be so hard to do. I've often had the same problem, most language's seem to have a core "comfort zone" where they naturally do things easily and intuitively, but step outside those bounds (in this case reading some Excel data into R and plotting it) and WHAM, hours of annoyance and desperate fiddling around await.

The author copies a bit from a forum, by one Michael Wolfe, on why Dropbox became so popular, as compared with other similar projects. It's a nice sensible tirade, so I'll repeat it here:

Well, let’s take a step back and think about the sync problem and what the ideal solution for it would do:

•There would be a folder.
•You’d put your stuff in it.
•It would sync.

They built that.

Why didn’t anyone else build that? I have no idea.

“But,” you may ask, “so much more you could do! What about task management, calendaring, customized dashboards, virtual white boarding. More than just folders and files!”

No, shut up. People don’t use that crap. They just want a folder. A folder that syncs.

“But,” you may say, “this is valuable data…certainly users will feel more comfortable tying their data to Windows Live, Apple Mobile Me, or a name they already know.”

No, shut up. Not a single person on Earth wakes up in the morning worried about deriving more value from their Windows Live login. People already trust folders. And Dropbox looks just like a folder. One that syncs.

“But,” you may say, “folders are so 1995. why not leverage the full power of the web? With HTML 5 you can drag and drop files, you can build intergalactic dashboards of stats showing how much storage you are using, you can publish your files as RSS feeds and tweets, and you can add your company logo!”

No, shut up. Most of the world doesn’t sit in front of their browser all day. If they do, it is IE 6 at work that they are not allowed to upgrade. Browsers suck for these kinds of things. Their stuff is already in folders. They just want a folder. That syncs.

That is what it does.

"Not a single person on Earth wakes up in the morning worried about deriving more value from their Windows Live login. People already trust folders. And Dropbox looks just like a folder. One that syncs."

Heh. This pretty much matches up with my single attempt to use Windows Live Sync/Mesh/.... whatever it was. Too hard to use. Folders now, folders I understand.

And, you know, that's what made my minor VbScript programming project successful. It worked with Excel. The part that the users saw was Excel. People know Excel, it doesn't frighten them. (The Vbscript? Yeah, that's a different story. But no-one looks at it, one person runs it, a few times a month.)

Though apparently Dropbox was a bit disingenuous about the security of the folders. Still a good tool.

A friend had a large tree limb fall in the huge wind storm we had last week, so I delivered my little utility trailer to her rental, so that her handyman can cut it up and take it to the dump. He's going to trim the tree a bit more, it's old and had some limbs that extend out horizontally 30 or 40 feet. I didn't volunteer to help, he seemed to have it under control and, honestly, tree cutting by amateurs makes me really nervous.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Sunday - I didn't get a lot done, pretty much just took the day off. I seem to be getting tired quickly, a day or two of manual labor and I'm done in. Partially it's that I can't get out and walk, the tendon is much much better, but still a bit sore. No sense in aggravating it, but it means I'm out of breath and overweight (even more than usual).

Book #51 was Cetaganda, and Book #52 was Memory, both by Lois McMaster Bujold, both in the Miles Vorkosigian Adventures series, sequels to the books of last year. Both enjoyable. These are the last Bujold books I have in the series, though I can recall reading one other, and there are several more in the series - none, oddly enough, formatted for the Kindle. Apparently a new book just came out this year, in this series, Cryoburn.

Hmmm. I just found a book in the 'already read' pile, from late last week; Book #53 is therefore Finder, by Emma Bull. This is one of the Borderland themed books that was popular in, I think, the late 80's and early 90's. Magic and bikers... Not bad.

Picture of the Week
Dad and Peg, Feb 2003, Martinez Marina
Photo Notes: A picture of my Dad and Peg, the focus upset
by a bird flying in front of me. February 2003, Martinez Marina.

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