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WEEK 25 2003

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A Year Ago, This Week

Saturday 21 June 2003

Saturday - a nice day, if windy. The guys were here, but spent so much time working on the patio roof that the door is delayed until Monday. So it goes.

Washed the cars, and the garage doors. They needed it, after the thrown cherries. Truthfully, they needed it before that anyway, so it was a good excuse. After that, lots of yard work until about 2:00, when my back let me know that it was time to go watch a ball game on tv....

Friday 20 June 2003

Friday - it was windy today. For people with allergies it is apparently hellish right now. A co-worker of mine finally had to leave work early!

The contractor was supposed to come by and work on the patio doors today, but canceled. Tomorrow, supposedly.

I went to the monthly engineering presentations today. These are a couple of short - half hour - presentations by people here at Dryden, on current projects. The idea is to help people become familiar with the many different activities here - engineers tend to be a heads down "Who care's what the other guy is doing!" kind of bunch.

The first was on the re-activation of the engine test stands created for the X-15 project back in the 1960's. An interesting plot showing why it was needed for new rocket vehicles (should they ever appear) is that there were about as many hours on the test stands as in flights for rocket engines, even after about ten years of flight. Engines are cranky creatures, and it pays to have a place to test them. The second was on an engineer who spent some time down at JPL. Despite the geographic proximity there historically hasn't been a lot of collaboration between JPL and Dryden, for various reasons. This guy saw a lot of room for improvement between the two, the new budget and accounting guidelines may actually make it easier.

Out for my walk I see my house has been vandalized with thrown fruit of some sort. My neighbor's cars got hit as well. It's not bad, but I am thinking of putting in some video surveillance or something - there was something on a different neighbors last month. It's too bad.

Thursday 19 June 2003

Thursday - busy. Found that I was using a non-patched executable again...arrrgghhhh. I need to remove those from all the systems! Dinner was at The Thai Cafe, and was yummy. Then I went home and started watching the Dodgers-Giants game - to wake up hours later on the couch... I have no idea who won.

The traffic report: One red light runner (black nissan Sentra); and one dufuss that would pass me, slow down and either make me brake or go around (I was on cruise control). They did it three times (black Miata convertible) on the way into work...

Newt Gingrich apparently has written another alternate history novel, Gettysburg. What if Lee had flanked the Union forces at Gettysburg? I'm not a huge Civil War fan, but there is a guy at work that is, and we actually discussed this issue a few months ago when Gods and Generals came out, along the lines of  "if Stonewall Jackson had lived, what would he have done later in the war?". Now he is torn between his dislike of the paleo's and the lure of  "what if"... Heh.

Wednesday 18 June 2003

Wednesday - still busy. I was in a good mood - after some weeks of work I was able to come up with a plot of the results that looks impressive enough. Well, OK, two lines. But it seems impressive when you realize how many hundreds of cpu hours went into it...

Speaking of which, I upgraded the RAM in the cluster for two other machines. Sigh. Soon I'll have to get down to the hard work non-fun part of actually programming.... I only work the parallel stuff after normal work hours, for the most part, so it's taking a while to get going.

cat and molested trash basket
When I was younger, and we had dogs, a dog that got in the trash would receive a hissed "Garbage Dog", and probably a spank. Doesn't work with cats - they just stare at you blankly, and run away if you seem at all aggressive...

Tuesday 17 June 2003

Tuesday - more of the same at work. Watched a car run a red light on the way in - he got away with it, this time... Watched a SUV make three U-turns in the middle of the undivided highway on base on the way home. Guess he was lost? He got away with it too...

I thought I would try running the PVM patch of POVRAY to benchmark things. Hah. The firewall at work makes it almost impossible to get to ftp sites sometimes, and then there was a mismatch between the PVM patch and the POVRAY version. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it, then I think of the weeks of computer time some jobs take, and realize, yes - but what a pain. It would be nice if there was a simple binary, but the POVRAY people have some sort of weird license making it impossible.

Oddly enough POVRAY is programmed with a left handed coordinate system!! Actually, upon further looking, there are quite a few left-handed systems amoung the graphics visualization tools. Renderman, Direct-X, and so on. Weird - in science and engineering it is all right I detect a sinister  plot?

A friend of mine was recently in a car-SUV collision. A growing trend in collisions is to sub-poena the cars computer, as shown in a slashdot article. Many keep a record of the cars speed, accelerator and brake movement, and so on. Many don't. It's sort of creepy to think of your car spying on you, but as the article linked to above shows, it can be useful.

Monday 16 June 2003

Monday - back to work. Spent most of the day going over old test cases and results, trying to discern trends and results from the mass of data accumulated in the last few months.

I also downloaded Robert G. Brown's (unfinished) book on Beowulf Style Computers and printed out a couple of copies, which I then had bound at the local Staples. It is an "open source" license - I am allowed to do this, but I owe him a drink for each copy, should I meet him:

"Any user of this OPL-copyrighted material shall, upon meeting the primary author(s) of the OPL-copyrighted material for the first time under the appropriate circumstances, offer to buy him or her a beverage. This beverage may or may not be alcoholic, depending on the personal, ethical, and moral views of the offerer(s) and receiver(s). The beverage cost need not exceed on U.S. dollar (although it certainly may at the whim of the offerer :-) and may be accepted or declined with no further obligation on the part of the offerer. It is not necessary to repeat the offer after the first meeting, but it can't hurt"

The weather is nice for an evening walk now. Last night while out walking with a friend we heard a "thump....screech" - clearly an automotive accident not too far away. Indeed, a half hour later, on my way home I passed the scene - looks like an SUV and a small sedan mixed it up...

Sunday 15 June  2003

Sunday - bobbed around in a friend's pool, took it easy. Boring for you, dear reader, but relaxing for me....

Picture of the Week
    strauss's bascule bridge in san francisco
Photo Notes: Everyone is familiar with the Golden Gate Bridge. The designer (he wasn't, really, but that's another story) Strauss actually got his start building "bascule" bridges over various streams and creeks in San Francisco - indeed, he had a patent on certain kinds of these bridges. There are only two left of these now in San Francisco, one of which is this, the Fourth Street Bridge, near the old Candlestick Park. Apparently they are going to take it completely apart, rebuild it, and put it back. After nearly ninety years it is probably due some maintenance!

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