WEEK 24 2011
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
This Week, 2010
Saturday - I went out for lunch with
some friends at a sushi bar. Man, delicious! And they kindly paid,
saying that I was enough of an honorary uncle to be treated as a Dad on
father's day. I'm not sure I earned it, but am humbled. Also, full.
Otherwise, not much going on. There is a Boy Scout dinner tonight, up
at the camp above Palmdale. This is the "Hero's Dinner" that Kirk got
awards at last year. Not sure what's happening this year.
Since I didn't hear from my brother about working together on the house
in Martinez I emailed and canceled my visit up there. I'm not going to
drive 1,000 miles and spend several hundred dollars to work alone. I
think I've done my share. I'm willing to help, but it can't just be me
any more, the remaining jobs are big ones, retaining walls.
- I was thinking of heading north for a week, to work on the Martinez
house, but don't have any feedback from my brothers on whether they'll
be around. The yard is the remaining big job, retaining walls along
with painting, and then it'd be rentable. But I can't discern that any
major progress has been made since my month long visit nearly two
months ago. I was hoping to get the yard installed in the cool weather,
before the heat of summer, and before renters realized that they'd need
to run the non-central-air.
Oh well, I suppose it'll get done some day.
Phoebe, in the back yard.
Thursday 16 June 2011
- DARPA, it turns out, had/has a competition to design a generation type starship. I hadn't heard about it until today, but it ties in, remotely, with #44 Dust and #62 Chill,
I suppose. The starship in Bear's books is large, but poorly defined,
and made even harder by the "discovery" of gravity generators and such
while under way.
There are a couple of branches on a tree in the side yard that resemble
a head and torso. When the wind blows it makes an apparition that
violently waves it's arms and appears to be screaming in silence...
Since his parents were out of town I took my friend's boy to a Sea
Scout fund raiser at the Palmdale El Torito. It seems like a fun and
active group, I can see why he's enthused. The Sea Scouts include both
sexes, which has to be appealing to a teen aged boy ;-)
15 June 2011
Wednesday - working away on the spreadsheet stuff. A bug has crept in somewhere :-(
Back in the 1980's and 1990's there was a space mission to carefully
measure the locations of stars. It sounds a bit silly (don't we already
know where stars are?), but a great deal of modern astronomy and
physics relies on knowing exactly
where and how far away things are. And modern telescopes can see many,
many billions of stars - far too many to measure by hand. If you
measure their location, then measure again a few days, months, years
later, you can get these measurements very, very, very accurately. This
mission was Hipparcos, an ESA mission, and was pretty successful.
It turns out that there is a follow on mission, Gaia (ESA home page) striving for about 1000X more precision than Hipparcos. Gaia
(Wikipedia link), - and I think we can officially state that this name
is overused now - will be a space probe with two mirrors, and a digital
camera with over a billion pixels (my new T2i only has 18 million) as it's imaging device, orbiting in space 1.5 million miles from earth.
Odd problems occur - most stars are far enough away that they don't
visibly move, but Gaia can see them move. Nearby stars in particular.
And there are double and triple stars that orbit each other - Gaia can
see that. And, what do you
use for a background reference frame? Apparently the trick is to look
at all the stars, their locations and movements, and figure out a fixed
inertial reference frame to work with from what you see. The telescope
and camera is so sensitive that the effects of orbiting around the
planet, the planet's moving about the sun, and the sun's movement
through space all have to be accounted for...after acquiring the data.
And by adding a spectroscope to the probe a scientist can determine if
a star/planet/gas-cloud is moving towards or away from Earth.
And all this data, billions of gigabytes, has to be stored in a
phenomenally huge database, with computer interfaces to look at it.
14 June 2011
- Dinner with some friends at Famous Dave's BBQ. Yum!
Here is a picture of my Uncle Jim and his twin sister, my mother, taken sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's:
- While up in the attic the other day I realized that the venting up
there wasn't enough to keep it cool, or even warm. On a very moderate
morning it was probably over 100F up there, and what it will be in mid
summer is hard to imagine, 140F, 160F? So, what I might do is to
install up-ducts in the attic hatch and let the swamp cooler exhaust
through there, at least partially. I'll test by just leaving the hatch
ajar for now (my friend Tim's idea). I was concerned about humidity up
there, but googling the idea I see that people do it often, indeed,
there are purpose built units for that. I think it might help a bit in
It's too bad my father's old weather station has failed, I'd like to
put a sensor up in the attic and get a baseline of what temperatures
are with/without venting. Oh well.
- As I said, holding off on that new swamp cooler while I investigate
getting a used one. The shell appears sound, and I can simply transplant
my motor and pump I believe. It appears to be a slightly larger unit
than my 4400CFM, perhaps 5000CFM capable (though I generally run my
existing unit at half power). I'll also need to transplant the outlet
and control panel, but that shouldn't bee too hard. We'll see what the
owner wants, she's on vacation in Iowa right now.
I also noticed, while up working in the attic on the central air ducting last week, sunlight
coming through the roof peak. Apparently one of the tiles on the top of
the roof, a cap tile, broke in half and fell off. So there is a hole,
3/8" wide and sixteen inches long in my roof, and it's bee there for a
while. Something else to fix.
Book #62 was Chill, by Elizabeth Bear. This is the sequel to Dust,
and is rather forgettable. I had forgotten I had started it, it sat for
a week or so unfinished, then after I finished it I forgot to blog about it.
Bear is a good author but the book is unfocused, and the characters not
particularly well drawn.
The idea is that it is a "generation" star ship, one that takes
hundreds of years to get to it's destination. At some point during the
journey there is a mutiny, and Engineering and Command separate,
dividing the ship between them. Nanotechnology allows the command staff
of each side ('exalts') near immortality and invulnerability, and
normal humans ('means'), are at their mercy. But the ship design seems
weird, the command staff are the only people we see, and the
emergencies, conflicts and battles trumped up.
I also went by a friend's and helped at bit with their solar pool
heater. They had a couple of 12 volt solar panels and last year had
some success using a boat 12V bilge pump to circulate pool water
through a solar hot water heater. It eventually failed, and this year
they bought a 12V bait pump at my suggestion, since it's designed for
continuous duty and mildly corrosive liquid - salt water. Since they'd
moved the solar electric and solar heating panels, over the winter,
things needed to be re-wired and re-plumbed, but once done a single
electric panel ran the motor and produced a steady stream of
hot-to-the-touch water. Pretty neat, really.
I think they'll be able to swim in the pool soon.